Monday marked the start of our very first Passion Project theme: Community. Through the conferences we attended and the schools we connected with the past several months while developing the ARCTIC Zone program, the most exciting piece to observe and hear about was how excited, engaged, and motivated students were when given the opportunity to lead their own learning. The scary part was trying to reach that same level of excitement, engagement, and motivation in our own program with our own students.
What happens if we don’t set it up correctly? What happens if they don’t take to it like those other students? What if it doesn’t work? – all frequent thoughts running through our brains the past few weeks.
We can say, without a doubt, this method of teaching and learning – Project Based Learning – putting students in charge of their own learning path, where they choose the topic, they decide what to learn, when to learn it, how to learn it, where they decide what to do with what they have learned and how to show others what they have learned… We can say, without a doubt, IT WORKS!!!
Our theme for this week and the next five weeks is COMMUNITY. Students are working on their own or with partners to explore topics that can help answer the question, “What does it mean to be part of a community?” We have some students exploring air pollution or marine debris while others are looking into various emergency responder jobs and scenarios, and yet another student is deciding how drones can be used to help our community in some way. Some of them are science-focused while others cover more social studies topics. They decide how they want to spin their topic and their learning.
The partners pictured are reaching out to our local foodbank, Feed My People, to schedule a volunteer visit next week during the school day where they will also interview some of the other volunteers and employees. You can tell by their faces, the phone call alone was a HUGE deal!
We are so proud to see our students stepping up to the plate with their creativity and excitement. The life skills being learned are greater than any single lesson plan either of us taught in our traditional classrooms!
Here’s to never going back!