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Project-based learning helps REACH students ‘connect the dots’

2013 December 19
by HISD Communications

When the REACH Charter High School first opened on the campus of Furr High School in the fall of 2006, it was envisioned as a place where project-based learning could help dropouts between the ages of 17 and 20 get excited about learning again so that they would return to class and graduate.

Seven years later, one teacher is making that happen with a project she assigned her students on the Holocaust.

“I wanted them to examine the concept of ‘injustice’ and learn from it,” said Diedre McClain, an associate teacher who took over several classes in October when another teacher’s health challenges finally forced him to retire. “Students have different ways of learning, so I asked them to research the Holocaust and design a project based on what they had learned. One student built a scale model of a concentration camp, and others created posters.”

McClain said that her goal was to help students “connect the dots” between the past, present, and future, by discussing not only what happened during World War II, but also how people are still being oppressed and abused today.

“This tragedy happened to human beings,” she said. “More than six million Jews were murdered, as well as other groups of people deemed undesirable. But when we talk about what’s still going on now, such as labor camps around the world and human trafficking here in Houston…it’s connecting them to their humanity. It’s really about what they can do to make sure it doesn’t occur again.”

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