21st century skills? Just give them back their crayons!

I must say they can be extremely creative and I’m lucky to be working with wonderful students who make wonderful things. How rewarding this can be and how easy it is to make it happen!

When pupils are given the chance to explore their most inner creative side, they come up with the most incredible things. And believe me, you don’t even have to guide them! Just let them make PBL Projects and you’ll be amazed.

Here’s what I usually do:

Once I’ve assigned them the task, after it is well explained and the guidelines understood, I tell them that the final product can be presented in any way they like. I tell them to surprise me and usually give one or two examples of how I had been  surprised in the past. By giving them real examples of colleagues and assuring that I was happy with the result, I show them that whatever they choose to do will be welcome, with no restraints, as long as they follow the Project’s guidelines and answer the Driving Question (DQ). You have the same DQ for all groups however you never get the same approach and the way they answer it is clearly different.

There’s still a lot of polemic surrounding this kind of projects as the most conservative still believe that we should be teaching them as we did 20 years ago regardless the changes the world has faced, namely the appearance of internet and web tools. Learn by doing is still regarded as poorly academical and therefore not suitable for a more in-depth academical approach. How wrong they are.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to one of my students’ mother. According to her, the school was following the wrong path by allowing students to do such projects instead of doing, and quote: “real tests“. She also included as a reference argument the fact that it must be boring for Ss to be listening to the same thing over and over again (as they share the same task…).

How wrong she is.

I spent 1h and a half trying to convince her that 21st century skills are way too different from what they were in our time, that students need to have other competences rather than academical knowledge, namely: problem-solving; critical thinking; collaboration and, of course, creativity. I even gave her some links for webinars and videos.

I’m pretty sure she wasn’t happy with my arguments. Saddly, she is a language teacher too…

Anyway, this is what the Language Department of my school did last term:

12th graders’ activity was based on ART.

#1 I had the students sit in groups of 3

#2 They had to answer the Driving Question by following the Project guidelines:

 How responsible is Art for the identity of a people?

They could use whatever means they felt confortable with and some of them really invested in creativity as they produced amazing performances while developping their language skills.

This is just one of the ways they found to answer this question:

Give them back their crayons’ is the motto of  one of the most  inspiring educators I have the chance to know and now, fortunetely, work with: Arjana Blazic. I intend to follow her motto and make sure my students are free to make excellent use of their crayons!

For all that matters, I love to colour life!

❤   ❤   ❤    ❤   ❤

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Can they speak or what?

My misfortune is that I do not have the time to update my blog as frequently as I wanted. Everytime I have a lesson worth mentioning I keep reminding myself that I have to come here and blog about  it but then something comes up and 2 months go by without me noticing it.

Precisely 2 months ago I used Kieran Donaghy‘s lesson plan SOULMATE. what a success! The lesson is beautifully planned and the students just loved it. In the end, I promoted a debate on whether soulmates do exist, or not.

#1 I had the class divided in two

#2 They were randomly chosen to be FOR or AGAINST the existence of Soulmates

The result was fantastic:

2014-02-21 09.28.47 2014-02-21 09.29.47 2014-02-21 09.29.55

Although the sound might not be great the content is!