Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Challenge Based Learning Pep Talks

I always enjoy hyping CBL projects with my students. I urge them to consider how important making a difference for our "Big Idea" will be.  I ask them to set the bar high and be willing to fail doing something important rather than settling for something ordinary.  I tell them that this is the special something they get by having me as a teacher.  I jump around a bit and shout.  I look them in the eyes and convince each student I am talking to her.

I think I do the motivating thing well.  But the best motivational efforts for CBL this year did not directly involve me-- it came from the students, themselves.  Lynn, Mike, and I were planning our "Fight Apathy!" event.  The two of them teach ninth graders and wondered how passionately some of them felt about the challenge.  They suggested that I send some of my sophomores across the hall to see if that sparked more enthusiasm.  This worked beyond my own expectations.  It was clear that the ninth graders were very locked in when the tenth graders were talking.  Though I did not ask them to prepare, one pair brought screen shots of their intended project solution.  Sarah, who did most of the talking in both classes, was well prepared and spoke to them very personally.  I learned more about my own students' approach to and understanding of their challenges.

These pep talks were ten/fifteen minutes of the best quality time I have experienced this year.  Good team work by all concerned!

Flickr CC photo courtesy of M.V. Jantzen

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