Today, my students began presenting their Multi-genre Projects. I have never been so proud of them! Their projects and presentations were passionate, creative, and thoughtful. The pride they had in their projects was evident from the moment they stepped in the room. They were confident in their presentations, excited to share their passion, and willing to share bits of themselves with me and their classmates.
Many of the students went above and beyond the requirements, which is amazing for a project that was completed at the end of their last year in our school. Instead of the usual boredom and no-effort work I see at this time of year, my students worked diligently on these projects. It is absolutely amazing the effect that academic choice has on student effort. Because they chose their topics and cared about them, they were willing to spend the time to make their project “just right”.
We reflected on the project together, and they came up with a few reasons for their enthusiasm. All of them agreed that choice was very important in this project. It was the first time most of them were allowed to choose anything they wanted, with no restrictions. Then, they were able to choose their genres (although everyone was required to write an encyclopedia article). Even though it was overwhelming in the beginning, choosing anything they wanted let them pick something they were passionate about. Thus, we had topics ranging from piano, to Hello Kitty, to Tyra Banks, to Greek mythology, to F-16s, to 9/11, to Pearl Harbor, to Lupe Fiasco, and even more.
The freedom to choose their genres allowed them to create multiple ways to communicate their research. The girl who researched Tyra Banks created a modeling portfolio with photos, an autobiography, a birth announcement, an advertisement for America’s Next Top Model, and a diary entry. The boy who studied F-16s included the specs, an advertisement, encyclopedia, and more. Every project was just perfect. And everyone chose amazing ways to present their information! We had models of the Twin Towers that opened to reveal papers. There was a traveling mythology museum, a model F-16, and a homemade suitcase.
I had tears in my eyes during the presentations today. My students have grown so much this year, and no where was it more evident than in this project. I am so proud of them!