Life Skills students practice communication, group work, and organization

MS Life Skills

Life Skills students at Madison Middle School created their own corn hole boards and bags as one of their eight hands-on learning projects for the 2021-2022 school year. Students took on assigned roles to work on their own responsibilities as moving parts of a group as they sanded and refurbished the corn hole boards for their classroom and sewed bean bags using a student-friendly sewing machine. 


The idea was born after Life Skills teachers Mr. McNamara and Mrs. Gluvna discussed with the class things they like to do and activities that interest them — corn hole was mentioned by many of the students. 


“The boards were already cut and finished,” describes Mr. McNamara. “The students had to sand them down to the original wood color and prime them, paint them, and complete the artwork for them.” 


Students took on assigned roles, including project leader for the day, painters, sanders, those that did the artwork on the paper and transferred it digitally, and those that sewed the bags. The big takeaway from this project was that students had to have patience, reflect on their work, and redo portions of the project that may not be up to par. 


This activity revolved around communication, group work, and organization. 


“We teach daily that we are a group — a group of one, and we are strong together. Proper communication is essential and listening to other ideas is what makes us strong,” adds Mr. McNamara. 


Students also created “I can” statements to reflect the student learning objectives that match the state standards. Mr. McNamara and Ms. Gluvna want their students to know that they are working on defined goals with each project they take on. 


Mr. McNamara says, “The most important thing about the I can statements is that the students know and believe they can do what they set out to do… Our students take a lot of ownership of their learning. It is also important for students to actually take a moment afterwards to reflect on their progress. I believe our students need to reflect on the I can statements and know that they can now do these items and goals they came up with.” 


For this project, the class created these I can statements at the beginning of the week to guide their project and help them reflect afterwards: 


  • I can ask for assistance from my peers when I need to.
  • I can work on a skill I have never done before because we are all in this together.
  • I can be a leader and help others be better today.
  • I can be depended on.


“When reflecting after the project, these students were able to state out loud each of these statements back with confidence in knowing that they CAN DO THESE THINGS because they did them,” sums up Mr. McNamara. 



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