I am thankful to Katrina Schwartz of MindShift for this wonderful article on our Modern Day de Tocqueville project:
Some teachers are skeptical about “student-driven learning,” suspecting that it’s really just another chance for unfocused social time. It can often be hard to see behind the jargon the careful planning and teacher support necessary to ensure that students not only stay focused, but also produce high-level work. Educators often wonder how students can all be working on different projects but acquiring the same skills. It may seem challenging to keep track of 30 kids investigating 30 different issues, but when inquiry-based teaching is done well, that chaotic swirl of ideas and needs is based on a strong foundation of planning.
Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia is known for its dedication to inquiry, practiced through project-based learning with public school students. As a magnet school, SLA does have an application process, but many students are not coming from schools where they experienced inquiry learning before.
An example of this approach can be seen in Joshua Block’s senior social studies class. Recently, his students put democracy through the wringer, investigating American democracy not as a static system developed hundreds of years ago by the founding fathers but as a living, breathing expression of citizenship today…