I thought this article was amazing. It seemed so memorable and altering for the teacher. My own classroom has its fair share of up and down days – things that are unplanned that go well and things that are planned to the T, only to flop completely. I love that this moment was documented 🙂
The shift from teacher directed to student created learning has to be a tough one. You have to recognize the potential that your students have, turn it into a challenge and give minimal instruction. I agree that the task-based learning is an active way for students to participate in practicing 21st century skills, but I think that this project was so much more than that. The teacher had just the right bait: she was able to fuse self-propelled learning with acquiring new skills, and keep the students on the hook.
The nature of the project allowed for choices. It was mentioned that some of the students present were not necessarily the ones to speak out or get involved in a group project, but this study gave everyone the freedom to choose their topic and their path for learning it, and ultimately teaching it (as opposed to the one-size-fits-all approach). The sticky note idea was awesome. (I can also see where even young students could participate in something similar). The class had to create their own outline when given a very BROAD topic. The final product would be based on their interests, meaning it could look different from year to year.
I love this teacher’s honesty too. It would be a HUGE challenge to shift out of the traditional front-of-the-room role and leave a lot of room for mistakes and alterations. She said, “It’s difficult to know how much to let them fail”. Majority of traditional learning projects, even the group ones that are meant to seem more dynamic and student driven, still rely on a rubric or guide or outline. Letting the class take the driver seat presents a huge challenge for the teacher…when do you step in? and how much?
Facilitating this endeavor meant allowing the nature of the project to change according to the problems that came up and the way the STUDENTS decided to solve them. I can see from a student point of view how completing a project, worrying about a grade, trying to work in a group can all be difficult without a guideline. Students have fallen into a comfort zone of “If I check every box on the rubric, I’ll get an A”. Leaving little to no room for creativity or REAL thinking.