It is the end of semester 1 in the high school, which means that another round of Passion Projects are “complete”. When I inherited this class two years ago, it had a solid framework for the students to use as they followed their passions and blogged about their process. I made little tweaks along the way and aligned it to our ISB Design Process and standards. At previous schools, I was the MYP Personal Project coordinator or a mentor and I really loved the idea of the project, but for a lot of students it became a chore and something they groaned about and had to tick off at the end of grade 10.
At ISB, Passion Project is an elective. It allows for students to follow a passion, delve deeper into a subject or learn something that isn’t offered in other courses at ISB. The course is open to all high school students, although mostly ninth and tenth grade students take it. There are even a few students who have applied to take it more than once.
Even though students are following their own passions, it is a challenge for most high school students to stay focused and work independently through the project when they are busy with so many other things. The three things that I really focus on the most as I coach the students through their Passion Project are:
1. Following the ISB Design Process – especially focusing on feedback and iterations in the “Create and Improve” stage
2. Documenting their process and learning through their blogs and using media to support their reflections
3. Sharing their work with a wider audience, both during the course for feedback – asking friends, parents, teachers, experts for advice and encouragement and at the end of the product to share their learning and “final products”.
The hardest thing for me in this course has been providing the right environment for students to work on campus. There is such a wide variety of projects and all the students need different things. I often let them work where they need to and check in with them, but that doesn’t always lend itself to productive working sessions at school. That being said… it is a student-led learning environment and a lot of the students do a lot of work at home because that is their preferred “creation” time. But this is definitely an area for improvement.
It is a course that I feel is a really important part of our offerings. Next year, another teacher will take on this course and it will likely change it’s name to align better with our Design Elective Courses. I hope it continues to grow and we can get more students involved in this course, especially in 11th and 12th grade.
Without further ado, here are a few of the projects from this semester. Please feel free to give students feedback on them. Their blogs document their whole process this semester, but their latest posts will be their final reflection. And, I’m always up for feedback as well: suggestions, recommendations and to see how other people are doing independent passion/personal projects with their students, so please comment and/or share away!
William’s Music Writing Passion Project Blog
William’s Performance at the Open-Mic Night: