Monday, August 7, 2017

Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project Based Learning

A few years ago I took a week long course on project based learning and had the opportunity to hear Dana Laur speak.  When I saw she had a new book out; Developing Natural Curiosity Through Project Based Learning focusing on K - 2, I knew I wanted to hear more from her.  If you are trying to find something to anchor your work with students to their interests, their passions, and their wonderings then this book is for you.  I'm afraid we've gotten away from listening to student's voices first and jump right to content units of study using standards.  Some other great features in this text are the five stages for finding solutions; authentic challenge and purpose, information and prototyping, perspective and point of view, actions and consequences, and considerations and conclusions.  There's a great deal of information guiding the reader through these stages to always include the child and foster their growth. Bloom's taxonomy is heavily discussed and modeled through the book.  There's a whole chapter devoted to authentic reading and writing opportunities to support project learning.  Yes, skills are taught but not in isolation and with a purpose.  

This book did take me a bit of time to get through.  It's small in size and font with lots of text.  There are some examples to help you visualize what the content could look like in a classroom.  

These are nudges I found to try within my own work.
- spend time asking students what they want to learn, I use to do this

- look for local connections to share our learning with

- allow moments of play to listen for the students natural curiosities

- weave projects throughout the day

- take each stage of the planning one step at a time

Here are some quotes that are sticking with me and might interest you in looking at this book more.

"This approach moves us from a standards-based curriculum for passive learners to a standards-based curriculum for problem-solvers, question-askers, and active participants in their real world."

"Authentic challenges tap into what is relevant to our children in their present world and what intrinsically motivates them."

"Authentic projects end with final products that are designed for use somewhere other than the classroom."

"The classroom community supports the creativity and innovation promoted in an authentic project approach."

"If you view your entire teaching day as one full opportunity to extend a learning experience, rather than as a segmented one, it increases the depth in which your learners delve into an authentic learning experience."

"Our young learners flourish in environments that foster their natural curiosity and build their skills while giving them autonomy, safety, and flexibility."

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