Memphis City Schools’ Think Show! exhibition
By Lurene Kelley
So, you think education in elementary public schools is all about coloring in worksheets and filling in test bubbles? Memphis City Schools (MCS) wants you to think again. November will mark the second Think Show! exhibition presented by the school district. The event is an opportunity for MCS schools, like Cooper-Young’s own Peabody Elementary, to showcase student creativity and teacher innovation. The idea is for students and teachers to take a break from the pressures of test preparation to unleash artistic and critical thinking skills. Projects include everything from original books, sculptures, and essays to paintings, computer programs, and choreographed dance.
Peabody Elementary teacher Jenifer Eoff says that’s exactly what happened when her 5th grade class prepared for last April’s Think Show!
“I taught math last year, and my class designed dream homes. We went out into the school’s backyard and measured out 76-feet for our walls and flagged the perimeter. We used fractions and scales. The kids produced pictures of what they would build. Then we actually built a scale model of the dream home. The kids had so much fun on this project – some even wanted to skip recess so they could work on their homes!”
For the fall Think Show! Peabody Elementary will build projects around the 100-year anniversary of the school. One of the school’s 5th grade classes will create a quilt-like display depicting major events in Memphis and the US from the past century. Pre-K students will produce a project about all things “Peabody” including the school’s namesake George Peabody, the Peabody Hotel, and communications they’ve had with pen pals from other elementary schools named “Peabody.”
Aside from allowing students to flex creative muscles, Think Show! has a second purpose – to invite Memphians inside MCS for a first-hand look at what students are learning. School board president Martavius Jones believes these showcases allow citizens to see a side of MCS schools rarely shown in local media.
“Unfortunately for most Memphians, their perception of MCS has been formed by the media, which more often than not, portrays the district in a negative light. What Think Show! has done is welcomed people into the schools who may not have otherwise visited and allowed them to form a more accurate view of what’s taking place in our schools.”
Everyone in Cooper-Young is invited to view Peabody’s Think Show! pieces, and you are encouraged to play an active role in the event as a juror. The goal is to attract 7,000 citizen jurors district-wide to judge student projects. On the day of the show, jurors will spend a few hours at the school evaluating projects for creativity, demonstration of knowledge, and quality of work.
Kindergarten teacher, Olivia Malland, says jurors who came to last year’s Peabody Think Show! left with a different idea of the school.
“I think there was surprise. Surprise at the quality of work in the show and what the kids put into it. People often have a bad image of what’s going on in public schools. I think they leave here pleasantly surprised.”
If you’d like to sign up to be a juror for Peabody, just go to thinkshow.org to apply. For those who would just like to see the pieces produced by Peabody Elementary, the school will be open to the public all day, Thursday, November 11.