I think of my humanities class as basically a project based course.
I rarely give paper and pencil tests. Partly because I hated taking them when I was a student, partly because I hate grading them as a teacher and partly because I just believe there are better ways to demonstrate understanding.
Even the Google Educator Certification exam I recently took (and passed) was primarily project based. Sure there were some fill in the blanks and such, but mostly the course teaches you to use the tools and therefore you must demonstrate your use of them to pass the exam. Makes a lot of sense.
I also stay as far away from lecture and straight text book reading as I can. Again, I suffered the torture of chalk dust and lectures for far too much of my own education. I prefer to have my students research, build their knowledge and then find ways to demonstrate that knowledge. In recent years I’ve gotten better at this as well. I reached my threshold on posters and slide shows and have begun challenging students to find different ways to present their learning. I want them to feel challenged, to reach a level of satisfaction and then push them to reach a little further.
This year, we’ve started a class blog (it would be awesome if you would visit and leave a comment) and the current project in class is culminating with a Google Hangout on Air (November 16 & 17 if you’re interested) where the students will debate if their event was truly a revolution.
Slowly I’m figuring out ways to add more authenticity to student projects.
I feel bad for and would like to formally apologize to the hundreds of students who have passed through my classes and turned in projects that were destined to live about the counters of my room and eventually be recycled or simply tossed out when the dust covering them became too much to bear.
I found inspiration in fellow COETAILers posts this week as I began to write. I whole heartedly agree with Brad Evans point that project based learning means students taking risks and finding the courage to fail. I applaud my students for not completely balking when I told them we would use GHO on this project. They were excited and eager to see what they can do.
Then Joceyln Sutherland shared a fantastic example of a project making a difference in the local community which struck another chord with me as our school continues to push us to implement service learning into our classes.
So, as it should be, I’m still learning.
I love that these courses and the cohort around me continues to push my learning and my teaching with new and exciting challenges. Some of them I’ve been dabbling in for years and still trying to figure out how to get them right, others are brand new. All of them are keeping me on my toes and eager to head into the class and say to my kids,
“Alright, you guys want to try something new?”