How do we get students to invest in their learning? One way is to involve them in the planning process.
Involve students in the project design
Whilst this is a fantastic way to get students energised about a project, it can also be daunting. It helps if you have a clear idea about the parameters of the project. Consider what skills/content you are required to cover, these are your non-negotiable. And where can you afford to be flexible? Discuss the parameters with your class and brainstorm the possibilities. If you’re studying Shakespeare, would they be most invested in a play? Film? Satire? Invite them to be creative. This process can take anywhere from 10min to an entire lesson, depending on the class. From this point you can design the project based on the information you’ve gained.
Involve students in creating the criteria for success
Designing the criteria for success not only ensures students understand the criteria, but that is reflects what they view to be a quality project. This can be created with the entire class or by a group who expresses interest. If it’s the latter, I like to ensure the rest of the class views the criteria whilst it’s still a draft and gives it the seal of approval. This maintains the view that we’re a team and everyones voice matters.
If the first two options seem a little too chaotic, this is a nice simple addition to any project. Form student teams to look after specific aspects of the project. This might be event planners for the presentation, or a curation crew to oversee the design of a large scale product. Whatever it is, giving students specific roles and the autonomy to fulfil this role helps them to own the project, and by extension, their learning.