It's the end of the year and we have one more project to work on. We are providing feedback for a major software application developer on a new product they are working on. Each student group consists of two interviewers and two interviewees. We are conducting Empathy Interviews, the first step in the Design Thinking process.
I gave the students the option of getting a grade for this project or doing it just for fun. Some chose the grade and some chose to be ungraded. This morning a student pulled me aside and asked, "So, if I don't get a grade, then why do the project?" "It's a real-word chance for you to help a software developer with a new product. You get to have a say. Are you interested in doing that?" Long pause. "Yes, I am." "Ok, then. Get to work." "Ok!"
And therein lies the value of authentic project-based learning. And what an interesting low-stakes test for me as a teacher. Most students are still in and working. Even though it's the end of the year. They meet with the product manager tomorrow to go over their data. We'll have to see how it all shapes up, but I'm hoping they come through!
Lisa Gottfried is a CTE teacher with 20 years experience as CEO of her own Video and Motion Graphics Production house. She currently teaches Intro to Digital Media, Video Production and Game/3D Design. She loves her job and her students!