Today I think we had a breakthrough in one of my classes. We are about a week into our PBL unit on genocide. I changed up the driving question from “Why do people hate?” to “Why do people tolerate hate?” I really want students to focus on the lack of action by the world to stop genocide in the last century and move them to DO SOMETHING about it.
|South Sudan Enslaved People|
We started off the first day with one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan as a guest who shared his story with us. The next day we talked about the scandal at Penn State and how no one intervened to help the victims. Then I introduced the driving question and students generated their own essential questions in groups. I told students that they would make mini-documentaries as their final product but it was going to be up to them to decide on what to do with them and to find their audience.
We spent the next few days researching. I got some pushback from some students that they did not know what “to do.” So against my goals of student-centered approach I created a template (again) to help guide them in their research.
But… we talked about my goals and purpose of the class moving from teacher directed and centered to student-centered. I told them that worksheets are the opposite of creativity.
One of my students spoke up and said that the problem was not with the research but that they did not know what their videos are supposed to look like.
I paused and responded, “I don’t know either.”
You should have seen the look on their faces. I mean how can the teacher not know what he wants for the final project.
I explained that if I told them what I wanted that is exactly what they would do. But I wanted them to be creative and come up with their own ideas. I wanted them to make a video with a message for the world, not for me. Slowly I could see the lights go one. I think we turned a corner in class today. I think they are starting to understand what this class can be like if they take control and guide it instead of me….
To be continued…