In the past, I’ve always chosen a series of ice breakers (even though it’s way outside of my comfort zone) and a History of Me project. I felt like the safest topic for a student was writing about one’s own life. I believed that this was a great chance to affirm a student’s identity and build a class community.
Eventually, I gave the students other options. Instead of creating a History of Me presentation, I told them they could geek out about something that they’re interested in. I called it the Geek Out Project. It was a horrible title, but it worked.
I started with these questions:
- What do you really care about? Why?
- What is something that you’re passionate about?
- What is something you know inside and out?
- What are some things you believe deeply in? What are some convictions you have about life?
I explained that geekiness is a passion, interest, enjoyment and often convictions about a particular topic. We explored the idea that every person in the class is a geek of some kind and that geeky learning is something inherently fun.
Sharing What You Know
After exploring a subject that they found inherently interesting, students shared what they had learned in a blog post. Some of them created videos or audio posts. Others wrote text or created a slideshow.
I gave them stems they could use:
- Seven Reasons Why __________
- Seven Ways to _________
- Seven Things to Know About ___________
- Seven Best _____________
- The Seven (Adjective) _________ in ____________
Students were all over the place. A girl chose Korean pop music while the girl next to her delved into issues of immigration. A boy across the room chose Minecraft while the kid next to him gave seven amazing reasons why zombies would make great pets. A few kids wrote about their lives, their families or their cultures.
We ended up getting into digital citizenship and digital ethics. We started our blogs and added multimedia elements. We got into visual design and the do’s and don’ts of slideshows (yes, I have them create Keynotes even if that’s considered uncool these days). They learned about copyright and Creative Commons and developed a set of digital ethics in the process.
If you’re interested in student choice, empowerment, and ownership, here are some next steps you might want to consider:
- Download the free eBook Getting Started with Student Choice (below)
- Check out the entire Getting Started with Student Choice blog series
- Check out the sketchy video 10 Ways to Empower Students with Choice
- Book me to lead keynotes, sessions, or workshops on design thinking and creativity. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form on my speaking page.
Get the Free eBook Getting Started with Student Choice.
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