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The Power of Pursuing Passions in the Classroom

Written by: Rachel Martino

In education today, there is a major focus on academic standards and preparing students for standardized testing. Oftentimes, curriculum lacks exciting ways to inspire and challenge students, and the school day doesn't include time for students to explore topics that interest them. Enter: Passion Projects! By letting students dive deep into subjects they love, passion projects can help them shine, be more creative, and enjoy learning that lasts a lifetime. What are Passion Projects? Passion projects, also called genius hour or 20% time, let students choose what they want to learn about and determine how they want to show their learning. For gifted students who often have lots of curiosity or interest on a particular topic, passion projects are like a key to unlock their potential. They get autonomy in the process, becoming active thinkers and problem-solvers. Being leaders in their own learning helps them think better and manage their time well, skills they'll need for life. Steps of a Passion Project 1. Brainstorming - Students discover their passions and interests and select a topic 2. Research - Students write research questions and use online databases and/or library books to learn about their topic 3. Expert Interview - Students reach out to an expert on their topic, armed with a few interview questions, to learn more about their topic 4. Analyze and Evaluate - Students analyze the information they've collected so far and evaluate to determine what else they need to learn on their topic 5. Fill in the Gaps - Students conduct their final research to fill in any gaps that they still need to learn about 6. Create Product - Students show their learning however they would like. This can look like many things, although we want to steer them away from a traditional tri-fold board or slides presentation. For example, if a student is passionate about learning about app creation, their final product might actually be an app they've created! 7. Present - Students practice and then present to any audience (their class, their grade level, their school, their families) Challenges Sometimes, students have a difficult time coming up with a topic at first. Students have probably never gotten the chance to work on something so open-ended and creative. This difficulty to determine topics and projects when the opportunity is open-ended is a major sign that students need the opportunity to learn how to tap into their own interests and passions! Passion Projects for All Passion projects aren't just for gifted students. They're also a way to help all students engage in being leaders of their learning and get excited about the process. Because students select the topic and design their project, they can easily adapt it to match their interests, needs, and ability levels. In Conclusion Passion projects fit perfectly with gifted education because they make learning fun and personal. When students study what they love, they start enjoying learning on their own. They might read more, explore new things, and do their own projects outside of school. This helps them become curious learners who keep exploring new things, even when they're not in class. So, let's celebrate the power of passion projects in classrooms and watch gifted students shine!

About the Author:

Rachel Martino is an Advanced Academics Specialist and Teacher of the Gifted and Talented. You can read more of her blogs on her site: Her Passion Project resource is available here via her Teachers Pay Teachers store:

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