Generally people remember stories and much of children’s play involves taking on a persona. Conveniently, many courses involve multiple units, thus allowing multiple rounds of “play” and “identity” for students. The stories they make need to be thoughtful and challenging enough that students successfully complete the “Hero’s Journey,” with a healthy sense of being uplifted by the challenges encountered on the way. This is quite doable with a thoughtful implementation of an Agile Kickoff process. One of my favorite books on this subject is in the resources below.
Helpful feedback has little to do with what the teacher thinks, for example the pre-supposition the teacher makes about the outcomes of student projects, and is much more about developing an openness to what actually works and what others like, without an absolute truth either stated or implied by the curriculum. Let the students decide what to do by emphasizing these two types of feedback: - Natural feedback - Collaborative feedback
Frequent, even daily, mini-reflections lead to adaptable students and curriculums. Ideally, guide the students to where they are comfortable to self-reflect with you. This of course means guiding the kids to where they have the confidence and insight to self-reflect and self-correct instead of relying (or even fearing) external assessment and correction.
Value is quite straightforward in my mind. It has several parts: a) students see value or a reason to learn the material without being told they must learn or get punished with poor grades; b) students learn to think about the what they learn and know in the context of how it affects others (or fits into a bigger picture), c) what students learn is challenging and engaging enough that it doesn’t feel like a dumb exercise to the student (e.g. a lab that can be looked up on Google that thousands of people have already done won’t fit this definition of valuable); and d) the process of learning creates confidence in the student and the process cultivates lifeworthy skills.
Not all learning will involve all 4 aspects of value, but the more the better!
Get the big picture: students set goals (outcomes), deconstruct (find the most important (3-5) aspects / skills related to the goal), and then smallify (learn to find the next small step that builds on what’s already done), and finally, learn through deliberate practice (self-correcting as they progress).
Complex projects provide the opportunity to explore and learn what does and doesn’t work. Understanding what doesn’t work and adjusting (redoing) work can often lead to tremendous learning. The caveat is that teachers must create a safe environment, without judgement, which creates space for 'mistakes' and 'rework.'
When students are trusted to explore and know that mistakes are ok, learning becomes fun and engaging. Exploration builds on student interests so they learn the basics naturally - and even specialize on aspects of particular interest to them.
An interview with Daniel Patton (science) and Bill Tihen (IT) who joined forces to create a course that includes both their interests—biology and electronics. The basic task for students? Build a terrarium that will support a healthy garden, but make …