Passion Driving Motivation Driving Learning

*Originally posted at the Blog ‘Feeding My ED-diction’

Having 10yo boys define and articulate passion can be a challenge. Having them demonstrate it…an attainable goal. My plan…Passion Week.

Year 5 Passion Week falls within our PYP ‘Who We Are’ Unit of Inquiry, which for our program this year focuses on how we make decisions and use self-awareness to determine our actions. Through an understanding of self, an engagement with multiple intelligences models and the opportunity to explore their own interests, students undertake a week-long passion project.

Students were provided with a frame for their Passion Project. Much like an academic research paper, students had to create a proposal to be presented to the teacher and peers for approval. The proposal had to include a ‘Driving Question’ on which to base their inquiry and a brief rationale of what made them decide to undertake the project. Students have been given the choice of how they intended to present the fruit of their inquiry and were asked to indicate this in their proposal. Students had to suggest activities that might form part of their inquiry, asking students to consider enhancing their inquiry with activities including literacy, numeracy, The Arts, ICT, Health as well as Science or SOSE. As part of the proposal students stated the likely resources needed for the inquiry as well as for the presentation.

The intent of the proposal process was to enable, not to restrict, with these proposals to guide their Passion Project direction and give them the platform for successful exploration of their personal interest.
On Friday, proposal submission day, I was amazed by the insightful questions offered for inquiry. Covering sports, video games, science, nature, history and current events and other fields of exploration.
Some of the most genuine and true passion-inspired questions came from boys who are not ‘high achievers’ and included some of the students who have a tendency to disengage. It has been interesting to see some students make very safe choices in topic and presentation and not looking to really extend their knowledge and skills, rather than just represent it. These have tended to be some of the more academically capable students in the group, but also not noted risk-takers.

As the process of inquiry and the project itself gets underway today, I look forward to seeing students in action and students of action. I know I will learn a lot about the students from observing their engagement in the activities, as well as the final product of their efforts, but I hope that they can learn about themselves as a learner as well.

About wholeboxndice

Head of Primary, teacher, #pypchat Co-founder, Soon to be MEd Grad. Lover of inquiry. Advocate for Boys Education.
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7 Responses to Passion Driving Motivation Driving Learning

  1. Pam says:

    Great post. It is so satisfying when you see those students prone to disengagement start to take an interest and surprise you with their insightful questions and creative suggestions. Good luck with your inquiry. I’m looking forward to reading more about it.

    I’m not sure if it’s because it’s nearing the end of the year (always tricky with Year 7s) but our last inquiry was a bit of a flop. Surprisingly, for me, some of my most capable students submitted the traditional all you can find out about….project, with no attempt to include the inquiry questions that they’d originally come up with. Back to the drawing board!


  2. Great food for thought! I am looking at Passion projects with both staff and students for first term in 2012, as a way for both staff and children to connect. Some staff have already expressed their fear in “letting go” but fail to see that they will still need to present some kind of platform for their Inquiry to be successful. I too look forward to seeing the great learning possibilities for both students and teachers!



  3. wholeboxndice says:

    I appreciate the comments. Early going but you can see a range of engagements with the task. Some will likely allow for deeper and richer learning, some will build skills and processes for future activities and some will produce a final product of quality. Which student has had the best engagement? How would we make this judgement?


  4. whatedsaid says:

    Inspired by Steve, I brought the idea to Year 6 teachers as a suggestion for the last two weeks of the school year. Two jumped at the idea, one was diffident and one was clearly fearful of losing control. What if they had no passions they wanted to explore? (!) What if they chose to inquire into Justin Bieber? (!) Another teacher pointed out that having kids come up with a driving question and choose one or two of the PYP key conceptss as a lens (form, function, causation, change, perspective, reflection, connection responsibility) would support their inquiry and make it meaningful, no matter what the topic.The resistant teacher decided to offer other options just in case… maybe kids would rather just create a slideshow of their primary school years (!).
    Yesterday I saw kids spread out in our open space between the Year 6 classrooms totally engaged in their personal inquiries. I think we’ll explore the possibility of incorporating it at every grade level next year.


  5. kdceci says:

    Great ideas! We also focus on passion, but as part of our Grade 5 PYP Exhibition. Last year, we tried it, and it worked well. After a lot of front loading from teachers and parents about their own passions, students thought through their interests. They decided on their passion and then explored it as part of their Exhibition. We had all kinds of passions (none Justin Bieber! :)) from tap dancing to video games. Students also had to connect their passion to a local and/or global issue through one of the PYP concept lenses. Overall, students gained some great insight into their passion, what drives them and how this might lead to something else in the world. Great inquiry, and I’m glad it’s taking off more and more. Has anyone read Sparks: How Parents Can Help Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers.? Peter Benson, the author, also did a great Ted Talk about passion-driven learning:


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