This project was successful because it tapped into not only student interests, but peer culture as well. They were able to examine events and people who lived hundreds of years before them and bring them to life in the present. Had I attempted to lecture about this information, I likely would have put them to sleep because of how “boring” it was, but allowing students free reign to create their own product allowed them to present what they perceived as “boring” information in a fun, creative, and new way. My experience in the #CLMOOC and #TRWPconnect made me realize that it is not important to have explicit instructions.
Many educators are so weary of their students writing “inappropriately” that they issue strict guidelines for assignments that stifle student creativity. Why not let students use humor? One student who chose George Washington as their founding father wanted to post as Martha Washington on their “wall” and say, “I love you, sweetie pants. See you for dinner at 6 - I know cherry pie is your fave!” Why not? If it causes them to become more interested in history and the life of George Washington, is a “cutesy” post going to cause significant harm? As educators, we need to realize that “loosening” project guidelines does not necessarily mean that we are lowering our expectations. By doing this, we are allowing students the creative freedom that they require to truly blossom as learners.
The bottom line is, students do not expect history to be a “fun” class; why not surprise them?
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