Final project season is in full swing. It’s been an interesting experience watching students adjust to the concept of less structure and more self-regulation. Throughout the year, students receive instruction, assignments, individual work, group work, etc. providing some sense of structure to the day. During the month of June, students are working on final projects everyday in their core classes, which has been an adjustment for some, to say the least. So far, I have found that the students this is the biggest shock for is the higher end students because they would much rather write a test to show what they know than put in the significant work it takes to develop an in-depth project (especially in math).
I am definitely a huge supporter of project-based learning. It allows students to develop substantially deeper understanding of the concepts than a simple pen and paper test would. Students are able to take my cross-curricular math/science project and personalize it to meet their interests. There are some students who have struggled with engagement all year long and now are right into their project and working the hardest in the class.
Last night I was talking with Jacqui More, a colleague of mine at Harold Panabaker, about the struggles and triumphs with project-based learning. When we see the students in our class who have not been engaged throughout the year suddenly engaged, it makes it worth it. I have students building their dream home, planning a wedding, acting as the GM for the Los Angeles Lakers, etc. The neatest part is to see that each of these projects is able to co-exhist in the classroom, where each student has created their own personalized learning environment. No matter what their project is students are able to work through rough patches and overcome obstacles together.
Students also don’t see that in the big picture of life the grade that they earn on their final project will not make or break them. It’s the life skills, time management, meeting a deadline, taking pride in their work to produce a polished product and critical thinking skills that they are developing throughout their final projects. These skills will serve them well throughout life regardless of what they peruse after school.
Until next time,