We are now on week 6 of Passion Projects in my class, and I wanted to take this opportunity to write about the experience of students who are have some struggles with the freedom this project affords them.
Our routine is to work on Passion Projects each Friday (if there is no school on a Friday, we work on Thursday instead) This regularity of scheduling allows students to plan for what they need to bring into school, work on things at home over the course of the week and report in their journals on Fridays, and predict when they will need to have tasks accomplished.
On Thursdays, I ask students to fill out a brief check-in page in order to let me know how things have been progressing with their projects, and to remind them that they need to bring all required materials the next day. As part of that check-in page, I ask students to mark on a line how they are feeling about their project - the responses can range from "Awesome" to "Meh" to "HELP!"
|Weekly Check-In Page|
This check-in page has been a great help in identifying students that are treading water rather than making significant progress. I go through them and schedule conferences with any students who are hovering in the "Meh" range (or who have indicated that they need HELP! - although nobody has felt that desperate yet...)
|The "no unfortunately" was a red flag for sure!|
|This student changed ideas after the first week, and hasn't|
seemed all that passionate about his new idea
|This student turned things around without much prompting from me|
At this point in the project, some students are recognizing that they have chosen tasks that they are not feeling passionate about any more. What seemed like a good idea at the time (using a new crocheting set, for example) has lost some of its lustre. The check-in page gives me a heads-up that someone needs to have a quick conversation and might need a nudge to get going in a different direction if they have lost their passion for their initial idea.
Out of 25 students, only 2 have found themselves in this situation so far (the third person was just feeling a bit overwhelmed and was able to get back on track with little difficulty). The vast majority of my students are engaged and excited on Passion Project work days, and work independently for the entire hour. The two exceptions are students who might have needed to reflect a little more on what really makes them excited before settling on their project idea.
I am still learning Spanish as my Passion Project alongside my students. If you want to take a peek, here are the links :
Week 1 - Why I Want to Learn Spanish
Week 2 - Progress So Far
Week 3 - Plateau
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions (or if you are also doing Passion Projects with a group of students!)