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Student Learning Is the most Authentic Project

At the end of my physics course, there are fundamental content understandings and science skills students need to have about the physical world.  That is why they are taking physics. In addition, though,  I want them to have a better understanding of who they are as learners.  As a part of my journey towards making learning more personal, I am trying to recognize that students have different preferred learning environments.  I want students to be able to explore different modes of learning and learn about how they learn.  To that end, I have had students work on creating a personal learning preference document.

As I try to implement more project based learning into my classroom, I realized that having my students create and share a personal learning profile may be the most beneficial and authentic project for them.  Let me try to frame it in terms of the essential design elements of PBL:

Challenging Problem or Question

The driving question for this project could be considered: How do I learn best?  The goal is for students define their strengths and challenges in the areas of accessing content, engaging with content, and demonstrating understanding.   

Sustained Inquiry

Over the course of 2 terms, students had the opportunity to experiment with different forms of accessing content knowledge, practicing in class, and multiple forms of expressing understanding.  


This couldn't be more real.  Students are looking at their own learning as their learning.  They are seeing what works for themselves.

Student Voice & Choice

As a part of learning their strengths and challenges, students were given freedom to experiment with different modes of learning.


As part of their final exam, students revisited their personal learning preferences.  They filled out the document below.

Critique and Revision
At the end of each unit, students reflected on what benefited their learning, what was not helping their learning, and what they would like to try in class.

Public Product

Ultimately this document is for their own benefit.  In order to make this actionable information, students emailed this document as a part of an introduction to the teachers they will be having in the 3rd and 4th terms.  The fact that this document will be the first impression most teachers have of them, will make students put a bit more effort into the final product.

Of course all students completed this PLP document with different levels of enthusiasm and dedication.  I'd like to highlight a couple, though.

I did have a student say to me, "What does it matter what I prefer? It's not like a teacher is going to change what they do just because I learn differently." I hope educators at my school can prove that student wrong.

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