Selectives 4.0: How TVS Teachers Expand Imagination

Now entering Year 4, our Selectives program has never been more dynamic.  In addition to several old favorites, we are offering new courses in creative coding, 3D-printing, broadcast journalism, animal science, songwriting, and Latin American cooking! If you are unfamiliar with our Selectives program, here are some important details we think you ought to know.

Selectives does more than expose seventh and eighth grade students to creative programming outside the core curriculum. It also helps them see their teachers as engaged learners beyond the classroom walls. Did they know their humanities teacher is a pro at constructing guitar amplifiers? Or that their Spanish teacher knows a thing or two about songwriting? Or that their math teacher traveled to New York City to learn how to make origami tessellations? Or that their Latin teacher spent his summer envisioning how to create a documentary about animal behavior?

Mr. Sahs, our Selectives coordinator, likes to remind our faculty that despite the variety of offerings, we all share one goal: “creating an environment where students can engage in fearless curiosity.”  He writes, “If you walk through the halls on Wednesday afternoons, you can feel the excitement among the teachers as they work with their Selectives students. They bring energy, passion, and most importantly a desire to create an imaginative environment where students can explore and learn. What makes this year so impressive is how the faculty have expanded their own interests –  pushing through their own comfort zones as they create classes that challenge our children to think in new and ever adapting ways.”

Take a look at this fall’s course catalogue:

CREATIVE CODING: Programming is a creative process that can transform ideas into reality. While participating in Creative Computing, you will get a chance to discover what artifacts can be created by using programming as a tool. Get excited to unleash your creativity and create a project that reflects your interests.

BRING THE NOISE!: In this selective, we will learn how to work with tools, electronic components, and soldering irons to build a functioning guitar amplifier. The goal of the class will be for each student to grow confident in their ability to build with their hands. You do not need to have any prior experience in electronics to be in this selective, nor do you need to play a guitar. You only need a desire to learn the skills and to get your hands dirty.

STOP MOTION ANIMATION: CREATE YOUR OWN ANIMATED MOVIE: Since 1896, animators have been using stop motion, and now you can, too –  thanks to an iPad App that makes creating your own Short Animation Film a little easier! After gaining inspiration from watching a few of the classics, students will mold their own characters, design their set, write their script and bring their frame-by-frame photos to life for a film festival complete with popcorn!

3D PRINTING: A NEW DIMENSION! What is 3D printing? It is the process of taking an idea in your mind, putting it on paper, and using computer-aided design (CAD) to create a blueprint of the object you wish to build. The design is sent to a 3D printer, and the printer creates it layer by layer, bringing your design to life. We will learn how to use TinkerCad and then print our designs to our school’s 3D printer.

BROADCAST JOURNALISM: Students will learn to produce broadcasts of Middle School announcements that spotlight students’ achievements within and beyond the walls of TVS. Throughout the selective, students will use different forms of technology to create editorials, feature stories, photographs, videos, and other illustrations that will also be showcased on the Trojan Channel.

LATIN AMERICAN AND SPANISH COOKING: Come join us as we cook a multitude of delish dishes from Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico, and other Latin American countries! Whether you are a beginner in the kitchen or a cooking expert, all are welcome to help slice, dice and prepare (and eat) some authentic recipes. We will meet in the cafeteria and will utilize the dining services kitchen as our work station. ¡Buen provecho!

ORIGAMI: CHANGING THE WORLD ONE FOLD AT A TIME: This selective explores modular origami: the process of folding multiple numbers of paper units and assembling them into larger more complex origami figures. We will look at how origami has been transformed in the last 30 years, moving from simple paper ‘toys’ into its current use in solar and medical research. We will build many complex figures –  including cubes, stars, mandalas, boxes, and advanced geometric figures –  as well as several transforming figures. This selective will conclude by examining the latest trend in origami: tessellations.

SONGWRITING: In this course we will discuss many components of song writing, including melody, lyrics, chords, and percussion. We will dissect songs from many genres and eras to see how musicians created the songs we all know and love. Students will create their own ideas and work together to help ‘produce’ the works of others in the class. We also will introduce a few simple computer programs which enable students to start making music from day one!

SWEET TOOTH: This selective will allow students to use investigative questions to examine their own food choices, explore the importance of different types of foods, and develop a scientific understanding of what exactly we are consuming on a daily basis. Toward the end of the semester, students will be able to plan a nutritionally balanced meal/snack for the faculty and work with the TVS Executive Chef to plan a meal for the TVS student body.

THE GREATEST CHALLENGE OF YOUR LIFE: WORLD PEACE GAME: Decide the name, symbol and flag of your country. How will you work with your friends and foes to establish peace in the world? Buy arms from an international dealer to make your country safer and stronger? Work with the World Bank and United Nations to improve your economy and increase your influence? Come and experience the world leadership of tomorrow, today.

HOW TO WRITE A TED TALK: Middle school students have incredible ideas –  ideas worth spreading. In this course students will practice how to speak and communicate so that others will listen. Students will also have the opportunity to hear the ideas of other teens at the annual TEDx Conference Fort Worth in November –  and, if interested, share their own speech!

PRODUCTION, PRODUCTION, PRODUCTION!: We have TWO musicals this year, and each show requires many hands to get them ready for an audience. In this class, you will be involved in the design and construction of costumes, props, puppets, sets, and projection for both musicals: the Middle School Drama Club production of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty as well as the Seventh & Eighth grade musical, Guys and Dolls.

FROM BROADWAY TO RUNWAY: COSTUME DESIGN: Join the Head Costumer for all of the Middle School shows, as she teaches you the fundamentals of sewing and design. Help create costumes for the Middle School Drama Club production of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty as well as the Seventh & Eighth grade musical, Guys and Dolls. No prior skills needed: she will teach you everything you need to know to become your own Costume and Fashion designer!

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: If you are an animal lover, and you are interested in how they behave, interact, and react to certain stimuli, this course is for you. We will take an in-depth look at domestic animals, wild animals, ethical issues involving animals –  and produce a documentary that shows our knowledge and understanding of the creatures that live among us as well as our understanding of ourselves and what makes us “human.”

PUZZLED?: Are you puzzled? Do you enjoy being puzzled? If you like word games, rebuses, logic, anagrams, and lateral-thinking puzzles, then this is the place for you. Join us for a semester of tackling challenges and learning new strategies for solving them.

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