I have experimented with project-based learning through the years, most often from May to June when the AP Literature and Composition exam is over and there is a month left to do the impossible -- keep seniors on task and interested.
Literature Circles, research project, and Genius Hour have all been a part of the repertoire and while each has been a success, each has also been a minor failure.
This year for Genius Hour one student dazzled me with a 17-page paper of the evolution of our tastebuds, another exceeded expectations by writing, directing, starring in and editing his own short film. Yet one student that researched how to take the perfect nap handed in an unimpressive brochure of common-sense advice. Another, studying guitar, scribbled some notes on a piece of loose-leaf paper and handed that in without remorse.
I fear that each new innovation in education -- project-based learning, digital tools, Genius Hour -- is touted as a panacea with teachers glorifying the virtues of its methods and rolling out examples of student work par excellence. While motivated students will always put their best effort into each assignment, there are students who do not put in the same amount of effort and care, no matter how innovative the project. What has been your experience with project-based learning? How do you get the best from each student?
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