As a student teacher, I took a seminar in which other student teachers at my university could meet and share what we learned out in the field. During this time, I was given a list of generic project ideas that could be adapted for any novel. It was a typical choice project set: create a poster, a playlist, a short video, and so on.
When I used this list during my first year of teaching, I was surprised by how much I disliked it. Projects are supposed to be fun, right? While I enjoyed pinning up the dozens of artful reproductions of the stories we were reading, I thought to myself that students didn’t actually have to read the book to create a scene or generate a soundtrack. The more I watched my students present these types of projects, the more I felt as if there was not much authentic learning taking place.
Then, in my second year of teaching, I had the opportunity to teach at a charter school that had fully implemented the project-based learning model. During my time there, I learned the difference between students creating a project and students learning through the completion of the project. (For more, see tagosleadershipacademy.org, where projects are entirely student-driven.) If I wanted my students to demonstrate authentic learning, I had to set more of a purpose than, “Show me you know what you read." That is what I have done with my project for the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
By the end of the project, students will be able to:
Read and analyze important passages from Fahrenheit 451
- Present research and opinions with clarity
- Accurately cite information in MLA style
- Make appropriate text-to text connections
Copies of Fahrenheit 451
Any other materials that are needed based on the choice of the student