Innovation: Education

Turning passion projects into real world change

Public displays of learning are not always the end.

How do you know when meaningful, relevant, personalized and authentic learning has really occurred? Is the charge and scaffolding strong enough to continue the learning after the in-school time has expired?

One measure is looking at what happens after the project ends.

Colchester Middle School recently embarked on exploring passion projects. At both an in-school and after-school exhibition, students shared their projects and learning to other students in the school, teachers, high schoolers, and parents/community members.

Passion projects and a public displays of learning are not a terribly new pedagogical approach, right? However, what stood out the most was many students had just begun to dig into their project and were clearly dedicated to carrying out the rest of their learning and a product with or without “school” and for good reason.

Meet Chris and Kaden.

Their team project resonated with the theme of passion (their passion) and a desire to improve the lives of people in their school and community. Their teacher, Kyle Marlow, had introduced this passion project with the idea that the desired outcome would to “better the people around them.”

So what was their spark?

A project for a cause. One close to home and worthy of action. What started with a guidance project that afforded students the opportunity to talk with Veterans during a breakfast at the school turned into the perfect passion project. The team of Chris and Kayden witnessed one of the Veterans struggle to navigate the 180 degree turn in the ramp to access the cafeteria. Their passion project idea had just become clear and  happened to align to Mr. Marlow’s charge for the projects.  An opportunity to improve mobility and access within the school (and later the community) for people who use a wheelchair. It’s also worthy of mentioning that the team has connections to Veterans in their families. Amazing how these opportunities align.

Hours and hours of research, talking to people, learning building codes, designing models, pricing materials, getting their project approved and a final plan is ready. A new wheelchair ramp! Well, at least a plan for a new one, for now (Stay Tuned!) This is how they want to improve the lives of others and leave their mark on their school and community. As well as give back to the Veterans for all they have done for us.

 

                                                                                       (Photo Credit: Colchester School District)

 

So how do we know when it works?

These students are dedicated to bringing this plan to completion. Not as a part of a class or assignment but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s their passion. As the details are still being worked out one thing is for sure, these boys will continue to advocate, use their voice, and bring about change in their school and more than likely the world.

When you are thinking about learning that is meaningful, relevant, personalized and authentic, how do you know? What’s your evidence?

Scott Thompson

Educator, Student advocate, husband, father, adventurer, outdoor enthusiast, cook, traveler, and former North American Nerf Golf Champion.

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