The middle school was bustling with enthusiasm as 6th graders arranged their Passion Projects in preparation for the ensuing presentations to the public. Launched nearly a month prior, students were now prepared to present their passion as the culmination of their first project utilizing Project Based Learning (PBL). Through this method, students gained knowledge and skills while they investigated and responded to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem or challenge.
As the 6th grade team pondered the launch of PBL with their students, they chose to emphasize passion, and how a student’s passion can contribute to a community. This seemed fitting as the 6th graders had just transitioned to their new community, the middle school. Upon hearing the word community, most automatically think of the town in which they live, but with this project, community is any place where the students can apply their passion. With vastly different passions, students were effecting change in communities like the library, school, People for Pets, family, nonprofit organizations, and Haiti, to name a few.
In addition to incorporating content areas such as math, science, language arts and history, other important real world skills were implemented as well. “The students took ownership over their projects and incorporated the areas of creativity, accountability and productivity. They also learned to speak in a public setting and became problem-solvers, which are all 21st century skills that will prepare them for their future,” said 6th grade teacher, Tammy Delaney. “The students even critiqued each other, and that was beneficial because the students tend to accept the thoughts and ideas of their peer group better +than from their teacher.”
According to Delaney, the students enjoyed presenting to the 7th and 8th graders, but they were really excited about the public coming, and that was evident while observing the students present. Mattie Chase’s Passion Project was, “Different Ways of Teaching”. “I want to be a first-grade teacher because my first-grade teacher was an amazing teacher, and she was always good with kids, and I want to be just like her.” When asked who that first grade teacher was, Chase responded, “Mrs. Hansen!”
Kaden Miller, a 6th grader who presented about golf, said, “This is the first time I have done a presentation with a board. I learned a lot from the experience, including how all subjects are included in golf.” Miller’s neighbor, Izak Peterson who chose the topic of soccer said he loved making the boards and helping his friends do theirs.
As the project progressed to completion, Delaney added, “The kids learned the important lesson that everyone has something to contribute to a community and how their passion can make the community a better place.”