Monday, August 5, 2013

Building passion for learning

What an exciting thing to be able to foster passion in students. I love students running up to me in the playground or when they arrive at school, literally 'busting' to tell me something they have learned or achieved. I love seeing this passion in students who are so young. Students who have a passion for technology and for their world. To tie technology meaningfully into what they do can be a challenge - the lure of the 'cool tool' is big...the epic win comes when the 'cool tool' is not even the focus but rather what they have been able to achieve and the depth of their learning that has occurred as a result. This seems to be happening a lot lately and I share the stories to inspire others and to do the same.


Several of the students I teach have been accepted to the judging round of the Young ICT Explorers competition in late August. Their projects are varied from programming robots, to designing apps to creating innovative ways to collect plastic and protect the environment. What has been so exciting to see is the evolution of their ideas which has given way to passion to see their projects through. There have been times when their ideas have not quite worked out and they have had to be creative about coming at the problem from a different angle. They have shown determination and resilience in the project so far. I have loved working with these students at lunch time, finding resources and 'experts' with them to help get around road blocks that have come their way. Part of their passion has come from working on an authentic project. The students have set the agenda for exploring topics that they care about. These students are spending lunchtimes with me and time out of school - its says a lot about making learning relevant. These students have already won...their excitement speaks volumes.

Another student knocked on my door this morning - smile beaming from ear to ear, "Thank you so much for sending me those links! I have just LOVED exploring them. They are so unreal!"I'm the one who should be thanking her for the enthusiasm she displays for learning and for seeking challenges. What is this little person exploring? Programming through using the program Scratch. Programming!
Have I taught her how to use it? No. Have I given her time in class? No. I chatted with her about what she loved and then emailed her a few resources. This young student took the initiative and started to explore herself. I've offered her support and expressed how much I would love to see what she creates...when I got home from work tonight, there was an email waiting for me, "Mrs W, I can't wait to show you what I designed tonight". Actually, it is me that can't wait to get to school tomorrow to see what she has created.

Passion - What drives it? Where does it come from? How do we build it? So many options here. As teachers we can stifle passion so easily. Instead, let's support those minds and ignite the passion for learning. Be genuinely interested in the ideas of our students and provide opportunity for authentic learning experiences. Be prepared to be amazed. Warning - their passion is infectious.