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Students' homework goes international

A Grade 9 social studies class at Constable Neil Bruce middle school is getting international recognition for a homework assignment.

The project is titled 'Living the Dream', the assignment - pick any city in the eight geographical regions of North America and outline why you would want to live there.

Social studies teacher Rob Steciuk says 'Living the Dream' was a student centred project where each pupil had to design a professional cover letter, use a professional publishing program to make a brochure and mail both items to the designated city.

The class hoped they would hear back from one or two cities, but the response was overwhelming.

"We've had responses so far from New York City and as close to home as Kelowna. Whistler, B.C. was so impressed that they talked to us and they have published some of the students writing and published their brochures on their international website," explains Steciuk.

The cities were chosen based on the student's personal criteria using guidelines of preferred climate, topography and economy and ranged from New York City to more obscure places such as Colemont, BC.

Curtis Anderson and Emma Tucker were two of the eight students who chose Whistler as their destination, and both of their brochures were featured in an article in the city's Pique Magazine.

"I chose Whistler, because it was kind of close and it was a city that popped into my mind right away," says Anderson.

Paige Needham didn't get an immediate response from her city, but in the end city officials from Revelstoke sent pamphlets and postcards on Monday, as a thank you for choosing their city as her dream location.

"I was disappointed when people had heard from places so far away, because someone heard back from Oregon which is really cool. But then (my response) came yesterday and I was so surprised it was really cool," says Needham.

Students have also received t-shirts, stickers and books from places such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas and even a phone call from the mayor of Kaslo.

The assignment is part of a project based learning program that has taken place over the last three years at the school. It allows for students to become more independent and self-assess their efforts, while working on projects outside the classroom.

Emma Tucker says project based learning isn't easier, but it is a lot more fun.

"There is more of a realistic dynamic to it as you are actually planning things that could happen in real life."

Teacher and Librarian Dayna Hart helped Steciuk with 'Living the Dream' and says she helps all teachers at the school to attempt to take on project based learning.

"It is just a different way to help attack the curriculum, the curriculum is really a vehicle for students to get their 21st century skills out of. We really want them to leave school with the ability to communicate, think critically and collaborate," explains Hart.

This is the first time 'Living the Dream' was assigned at the school, but it won't be the last  -- thanks to the overwhelming response from cities around North America. 

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