I long for this time after the test every year, but then when it gets here I find myself falling to pieces just a little bit. I know that this is the time of year when students need the most structure. I also know that I need to keep every day engaging and content filled, because my dear friends, it can not all come to a grinding halt after the test is over. If we end our serious learning right after the test then the students know that the test is what counts, when we friends know it couldn't be further from the truth.Okay, rant over, and here is my plan:
For the rest of the year we are focusing on project based learning. This is the stuff real learning is made of, and I love it! Now I know that some teachers are able to just let the projects flow, and I would love to say that I am one of those people, but that just isn't true. So while I may give a boat load of structure and specific directions going into a project, I am all about allowing students to make the choices that will make the experience meaningful to them, all the while keeping the project content rich!
Our first project started this week and we are planning a dream field trip! During this project students will complete research on their chosen trip, take part in four different writing tasks (persuasive, expository, how-to, and narrative), conduct three math tasks, and create their own map! I LOVE watching my students to see where they choose, it becomes so personal to them.
In the end, they create a poster to present, and are so into it! Of course the field trip is just the beginning. About the time they finish that one up they are begging for more, so we move right into the next one! One of the glorious things about these projects are that students can work at their own pace and begin and end them one their own, we don't have to stay at the same place as a class which works out wonderfully at the end of the year with all the various times that students get pulled/are absent.
Have your tried one of Teaching in the Fast Lane's Culminating Projects? Send in pictures of your students in action to firstname.lastname@example.org for a special thank you!
** I wrote this post last year while still in the classroom, but never posted it. Although I don't have my own classroom this year I have been volunteering and all these thoughts still ring true