If you don't want to read the whole thing, here are the basics:
- Kids can do ANYTHING they want as long as it satisfies 3 essential questions that tie what their doing into our class goals. Kids are encouraged to build and create rather than complete.
- Kids have to find an adult to mentor other than the teacher who will help them during their project.
- The projects will last almost 3 months and culminate in a public presentation day.
- I pledge to give approximately 20% of class time to this project for the rest of the year.
- I'm doing a project with the kids - this blog. I am going to blog about the kids work on this blog each day. That's an extra 12-13 blog posts for me!
Day 3 - Wednesday, March 4th, 2015---Day 4 - Thursday, March 5th, 2015
What. A. Blur.
First myth of project based learning that needs to be dispelled and hard - projects are less work for the teacher. A variation of this myth is that projects are front-loaded with work for the teacher, but they're pretty easy once they get going.
These are not true!
I have spent the last two days jumping from person to person, group to group, trying to brainstorm and problem solve. The kids are really thinking and coming up with creative ideas - you can read about some of the highlights in Day 1 and Day 2.This truly is great and I'm really excited to see things working the way they should. On my end, though, that means that answers aren't really answers in the traditional sense. Kids are really asking me questions. It's like they're on a river with a bunch of small tributaries branching off from the main river. Sometimes a kid goes down one of the smaller paths and finds something cool. Sometimes they go down one of these small rivers and wind up in mud.
My role is to get kids un-stuck. I find out why they've run ashore, figure out the cause of it all the best I can, get them back into deeper water and push them off. Some kids are going in wonderful and incredible directions with this project. Others and spending more time in the mud then they are in the water.* How do I balance my time between those who are stuck and those who needs some high-level brainstorming?
*My wife tells me that I use the most ridiculous analogies. She's currently denying it to my face as I type this. She sits on a throne of lies.
A cool side-effect I'm already seeing is that some students (not all, but some) that are doing really well are reaching out to other students and trying to help out with ideas. This is very cool to see. I'm excited to see how this kind of action develops as the project goes forward.
Another cool thing that is happening is the role of the adult mentor and how some kids are really going after this requirement. I have made each student ask an adult (not me - I don't want to play any favorites with my time) to help mentor them during the project. Dave Leone, Center School District Superintendant, has been asked and has accepted. A friend of my grandma who loves are is going to meet up with one of my students at the Nelson-Atkins to talk about art and museums. Another friend of mine who serves in the military is going to mentor a student who is doing a project on drone strikes. That will be fascinating to see.
That's all I've got for now. Tomorrow is the day of the "I Will..." statements. Students will write their statements to stake a claim on what they are going to actually do or create for their project. They've brainstormed, asked questions and researched for a week. Tomorrow is the day to make a choice. Most students are already here. Be looking out for a quick video next week to see what kinds of projects are coming up!
Until next time...