You’ve heard it for years now, “Your students should be involved in project-based learning for ultimate success.” They keep telling you that without really showing you how! I mean, what does project-based learning really mean? What does a project-based learning classroom look like? Does it mean that after every unit, you assign a project choice-board or a fun activity that gets your students out of their seat? I mean, that sounds pretty good and students get results, soooo…?
Not exactly. Then, what is a project-based classroom? I’m going to rip the band-aid off and give you the honest truth...for most classrooms, it means rethinking our units from a teacher-centered approach to a student-centered approach. In the middle school language arts classroom, you utilize a student-centered approach to reading units where students explore a topic through questioning and research throughout the entire unit....
Give me a hands up right now if you are one EXHAUSTED teacher. Teaching through a pandemic is certainly not for the faint of heart. Some of us “got to stay home” (don’t you just want to punch the person who phrases 100% virtual learning like this) while others had to juggle a hybrid model because doing two jobs at once is a piece-of-cake, and some of us were in-person but maintaining masks, social distancing, cleaning...all the things to keep these little darlings safe. I’d venture to say that we are even more tired at this point in the year than we were in our first year of teaching! (Sorry first year teachers...I promise, this isn’t normal!)
As I started thinking (dreading) putting together the summer reading assignment for my students, it dawned on me: they are dreading RECEIVING the summer reading assignment just as much as I am dreading giving it. They are exhausted too, and who could blame them? Many of us have...
We've all been there. It doesn't matter how great your resources are or how much time and effort you put into creating an engaging unit...if it is a less-desirable text, many students just WILL NOT get into it. What's a teacher to do?? I mean, it's not like your school has tons of money to purchase new class sets of novels...and you certainly don't either.
This is what I did to engage students when they just did not like the text we had to read:
Let me give you a little back story. For 12 years, I read Paula Fox's Slave Dancer. The story is rich in figurative language, imagery, advanced vocabulary, character development and examples of developing mood and tone. It really is a beautifully written text that provides valuable teaching opportunities.
The problem though is this:
I can make learning about figurative language engaging.
I can make learning about mood and tone engaging.
I can make learning...
Project-based learning solves the dreaded-"Why do I have to learn this?"
Develop life long readers and learners because they are always asking questions!
Make definite connections to reading!