Use project-based learning to support student voice, engagement
Student-centered classrooms foster engagement and authentic learning. These environments allow students to have voice in their learning, plus explore and create in ways that the traditional lecture-based classroom can’t match.
One project we did this year involved having the students identify a problem from their lives and come up with a way to solve it using technology. Two students noted that the current process for signing out of class to use the restroom was tedious, and thought that a simple scan out would be faster and less intrusive to the class. I thought it was an amazing idea and let them run with it.
And they did. They chose all the tools — a Raspberry Pi for the computing, a scanner for the scanning, and a 3D printer from Dremel (the 3D20) to print case designs for the Raspberry Pi. They got practice in design and coding as they led the lesson and worked together to tackle problems that came up.
Give project-based learning a shot this year. Let students build mental muscle as they wrestle with problems, exchange ideas and work together to craft solutions. Then stand back and watch engagement soar.
Nick Provenzano, 2013 ISTE Teacher of the Year, is an English teacher and technology curriculum specialist at Grosse Point Public Schools in Michigan.