What is the role of a teacher? What kind of lasting effect can I make on my students? How can I spark curiosity and a love of learning? Age old questions that good teachers are constantly asking themselves as they prioritize classroom activities and lessons. Of course, I want my students to be good at Mathematics and for them to be able to write paragraphs with ease but I want more! I want them to be enthusiastic about learning, I want them to love coming to school each day, and I want them to be inquirers and researchers. I want them to understand that we never stop learning and that it’s fun to learn and fun to teach others.
Building time into our schedule for Passion Projects was one way I thought I could start to develop these qualities that I was looking for in my students, this unfaltering enthusiasm towards learning. So after doing a bit of teacher research I decided to get started straight away. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage, eighteen different research projects, one teacher but I knew I could find support within the school and if I didn’t start now, would I ever?
It started off slowly, the children had so many ideas so we had to narrow them down to something researchable and then they had to come up with researchable questions. Finally it was time to research, to learn to research, we are after all talking about seven and eight year olds! I sought support, the librarian could come every second week and I was able to schedule a teaching assistant too! Although it was a little bit chaotic things were going well. Every time the students saw Passion Projects written on the visual timetable they would fist pump and shout ‘Yes!” It was so amazing to see them become so excited about their own learning. It made all the chaos worth it!
Finally it was time for them to decide how they wanted to present their information. Time wasn’t really on our side at this stage, Christmas was getting closer and I really wanted to have them finished before the holidays so I asked the parents to help create the final products at home. The results were wonderful and the parents loved being part of it, so many positive comments about the enthusiasm the children had about their personal project.
They were all so eager to present and everyone wanted to go first! It ended up taking about a week for everyone to present and they really blew me away! Seven and eight year olds, standing in front of the class confidently presenting on their topic to their peers. We saw full PowerPoint presentations, posters, audience participation and models. And the best part was when they had all finished presenting the first thing they asked was, when do we start our next one?
I really can’t put into words how impressed I was, the energy in the classroom around learning was phenomenal and I was hooked! I know I will be continuing Passion Projects in my classroom well into the future and hope that every child gets an opportunity to feel this passionate about learning!