Finding a student's passion is never an easy task. Today's students are different. While many assume that they are shallow and unwilling to learn, I believe just the opposite.
Today's students know so much more than we knew when we were in school. They know what's going on in the world and realize that they have a voice. Because of this, they are not as interested in facts that can be Googled but instead want to solve real problems. Not word problems that they cannot relate to...real problems.
I believe that student passion is the "sweet spot" of education. My boys play baseball and their coaches are always talking about the sweet spot on a bat. When the ball hits that sweet spot, the ball is hit more effectively and results in the desired outcome. The same is true for student passion. When our teaching meets their passion, the learning becomes real and our teaching is more effective.
But, how do you find a student's passion? How do we know what they want to learn and how they want to learn it? Here are five suggestions:
1 - Conversation. Talk to them. Ask them what they are into and really listen when they begin to share. After the conversation, show your students that you listened by acting on what they shared. Make it a priority to engage them in more conversations about their passions and find ways to help them explore that passion.
2 - Observation. Watch your students. Watch them at recess, lunch, and in between classes. Listen to what they talk about when they don't know you are paying attention. Students talk about their passions. If it's truly their passion, they can't resist. They think about it often and like to share what they know about the subject.
3 - Thrively - Thrively.com is a wonderful way to find out student passions at the beginning of the year. Register your entire class at the beginning of the year and allow them to take the Strength Assessment. In doing so, you will know what each student wants to learn about and even how they learn best. This tool is so beneficial and so easy to use. Thrively is also FREE!
4 - DIY.org - This website helps students connect learning with skills. Students simply choose a skill and complete challenges to earn digital patches. I love DIY.org because the skills are real-life professions and students are able to learn by doing. Such a cool way for students to explore lots of ideas and activities as they begin to find their passions.
5 - Outside Experts - Allow students to talk to experts outside the classroom. Making connections with what is happening in the real world will sometimes spark a passion that students didn't know existed. Hearing how experts use the standards in the real world helps students make connections between the standards and application. If they don't know how it applies to the real world, it's hard to justify why it is being taught in the classroom. Sometimes, just talking to someone that is doing something really cool will ignite that spark and help a student find their passion unexpectedly.
Passion is the first step in the 6 P's of Genius Hour process. A student with a passion is a student with a purpose. When they find their purpose, they become engaged and begin to realize that they have the power to make a difference and solve real problems using the standards that they are learning in the classroom.
If you'd like to learn about the 6 P's of Genius Hour, you can pre-order Genius Hour: Passion Projects that Ignite Innovation and Student Inquiry TODAY!