Interest-based learning is when students identify their interests and use those interests to drive and lead learning experiences.
The purpose of designing learning experiences around interests is to encourage an intrinsic motivation to learn and inspire a passion for learning. This happens by tying learning experiences with topics and questions that are meaningful, relevant, and interesting to students. Personalize learning through interest-led project-based learning.
What is personalized teaching?
In short, personalized teaching is offering personal learning / customized learning opportunities for each student. Learning experiences are based around every students' unique background, interests, strengths, challenges, goals, and more.
Last week's blog post was all about how to coordinate and implement self-directed project-based learning activity. Whether the experience is teacher-led or student-directed, writing a driving question is often the first step in PBL design and one of the biggest struggles. So how do you write one? How do your students write one? What are some PBL driving question examples? Find the answers to all of these questions right here.
I am a former high school project based teacher of ten years. As an educator with an experiential philosophy, I have found project based learning for self directed learners to be the most effective way to engage teenagers.
Project-based learning for my students is self-directed 90% of the time. In other words, I (usually) do not plan their PBL projects for them. I offer the structure and tools for students to successfully direct their own experiences.
This post is all about managing those details. You are a facilitator of learning. The trick is knowing how to plan, coordinate, and manage self directed project based learning activities. How do you get started? What do you do next? How do you wrap up? It's super easy when you know how to do it and have the tools to streamline the experience!
There are a few elements that are important to include in project-based learning, otherwise your students are just doing projects. I vaguely talked about this in a post published last week, "What is Self-Directed Project-Based Learning Anyway" and now I'm back with details on specific elements of PBL, and how to modify those components to be self-directed.
I facilitate a women's studies seminar every year, and as a seminar finale, students design and lead their own high school project-based learning experiences around a subtopic of their choice.
Imagine you walk into a classroom. You look around and see students spread out around the room. Some students are quietly lounging in bean bag chairs, reading or writing. In the center of the room you see a small group of students chatting around a large table. You find students sitting at desks, working away on computers. One of the students is creating an animation and another student is writing an email. You scan the room and see a couple of students watching a live webinar streaming from Facebook.
There is so much to say about student-directed learning. Generally speaking, when learning activities are truly student-directed, classrooms are transformed, as are students. Self-directed learners, in short, have choice, voice, and autonomy.
These learning experiences can also be done just about anywhere on earth - in a classroom, remotely, out in the backyard or school yard, on the road, traveling around the world, and more because they are designed around personal interests and circumstances.
Several years ago I showed a news segment to my advisory/PBL students about the Syrian refugee crisis. A student of mine approached me after the activity expressing her interest in the topic.
This student chose to design and conduct a project-based learning experience about Syrian refugees. She wrote the driving question for her project, decided to create an interactive, animated timeline to demonstrate the events that led up to the crisis, organized and executed a pie fundraiser to raise money for the cause, and distributed her timeline and marketing materials to neighboring community members to raise awareness and raise some money. All her choices.
Experiential learning is.....wait. What is experiential learning? What are the characteristics of experiential learning? What does experiential learning look like in a classroom? What are examples of experiential learning? What are experiential learning activities? Why is experiential learning important and what are the benefits? I get these questions a lot.
Most of the inquiries that I get from educators, however, are about how experiential learning can be worked into K12 curriculum. The good news is that it's a great learning tool for people of all learning environments, backgrounds, skill levels, and interests, and it's fairly easy to implement if you know the essential components.
Blog Post: Why I Became an Experiential Learning Educator
To provide innovative educational resources for educators, parents, and students, that go beyond lecture and worksheets.
Sara Segar, experiential life-science educator and advisor, curriculum writer, and mother of two.