An 8th Grade Project
Lyman Moore Middle School teacher Ray St. Pierre was given a special opportunity in the Winter of 2003-2004: the chance to take 17 At-Risk eighth graders under his wing full-time for three months. His goal: to take the students into the community and create a project that would teach them practical skills and help them discover their own abilities. The Student At Risk Program (STAR) would be an experiment in learning.
St. Pierre contacted the Maine Historical Society and set up a brainstorming meeting. Working closely together, St. Pierre and MHS staff came up with a project with intriguing potential: an in-depth study of Portland's working waterfront.
Portland's waterfront—full of history and bustling with commercial activity—is an essential part of the city's economy and identity, yet there are few resources to help students study the waterfront and incorporate it into the classroom. The partnership between Lyman Moore and MHS promised to both be a powerful learning experience for the STAR students, and to help MHS develop online resources and a teaching model around the waterfront.
The project began with brainstorming sessions to establish what students knew and thought about the waterfront. They quickly moved on to a scavenger hunt, and walking tours that took them into the waterfront’s nooks and crannies. Next they met with and interviewed historians, lobsterman, fisherman, and numerous other people who work along the harbor. They talked to Jeff Monroe, the Director of the Port, and the people who run the Fish Exchange where commercial fisherman sell their catches. Folks from WCSH taught them to set up, conduct, and record interviews.
Students broke into six small groups, chose specific topics, and began their real work. The goal for the project was to create five online exhibits for the Maine Memory Network and a documentary video that captured their experience. Five groups worked on the exhibits—on Union Wharf, the Portland Observatory, Commercial Fishing/Lobstering, and the forts of Casco Bay. A sixth group developed the ten-minute documentary.
The project has been a great success. The students did the best work of their young school careers and made a great contribution to the community and the Maine Memory Network. Thank you STAR students! Please visit their exhibits in the menu on the right side of this page.