I could not be any more delighted with the results that my classes have produced this year. No, it is not in the form of higher test scores. In fact, I have not given them a test once this year! It has come in the form of real, actual learning. Not learning for a test. Not memorizing factoids to spit them out and then forget them. Nope, as we near the end of the year and have moved into final projects, I am literally stunned by the engagement and learning that is happening.
I realized this the other day as I stood at the back of my computer lab and marveled at what was happening. For the final, I have asked students to combine the numerous elements and tools we learned this year into one final mega project of their choosing. Then I stepped back to watch. As I stood there at the back of the room and observed my students in action, it really hit me how effective my new school approach has been. In one corner, a couple of kids are writing code to build a race car game. In the other corner, kids are designing websites and logos. In the middle of the room, kids are creating a dub step album to sell on iTunes. Another student, interested in finding a summer job, is working on building a presume with prezi (and it is looking darn good!).
There are no behavioural issues. No one is bored. Everyone is working hard because it is work that matters to them. Indeed, that is what I have pushed all year long. Do work that matters to you. Do work that is relevant for your life right now and that will make a difference, get noticed and be valued. I could have given them multiple choice tests; I could have gone old school and forced everyone to follow my pace while I lectured (yawn) at the front of the class with the projector. I could have criticised their work, staunchly handed out grades and marked on the curve. I have done none of these things and my class has soared to heights that would be unobtainable with those methods.