Thursday, 6 July 2017

Passion Projects & RE - Rosemary Madden - Catholic Cathedral College

In the Term One holidays I went to a presentation (G Suite Summit) by Simon Ashby on the idea of running 'Passion Projects' within your class. Rosemary Madden from Catholic Cathedral College was in the room with me and set a goal for her Year 10 class. Her class would complete over a five week period (five classes) a 'Faith & Me' project in Religious Education. 

Rosemary, is using this project as part of her Teaching as Inquiry whereby, she is analysing whether the use of 'Passion Projects' has positive academic outcomes for her students (with one class per week give to a Passion Project) compared to those who are completing a standard topic. Within this project time, Rosemary is noticing the benefits on her students soft skills (communication, teamwork, critical thinking, sense of self and social responsibility).  This links well to the 2013 OECD report the Nature of Learning, whereby students should be encouraged to develop their adaptive capacity. Adaptive capacity is a willingness and ability to change competencies and expand the breadth of their expertise. The reason why this is important for our learners today, is that they will be required to be life long learners due to the disruption that technology will have in their lives.

How might I complete a 'Passion Project' within Religious Education? Let's find out..........

Four Guiding Rules

1. Frame it as a Driving Question

Ideation: 20 ideas in five minutes, 100 ideas in 10 minutes
Use the Chilli Challenge - How hard is my question?

2. There must be research involved

What do you do with an idea? These are your teachable moment(s)

3. The Project needs to have a purpose

Can your passion be useful to someone else? Local/National/Global impact.
What is the ‘why’ of your project…?

4. It must be shared

What are going to be the best ways to share your project? Will anyone see that website you made?

Collate Evidence

Collate your learning evidence as you complete your Passion Project.

You could format it as:

Forms for feedback
Docs., Slides or OneNote for weekly reflections
Mind Maps for ideation and questions


Role of the Teacher

Facilitator = Provide a sounding board for your students and prompt through advice and questions
Questioner = Seek to develop solutions to their barriers by providing them with options
Motivator = These projects do not provide immediate gratification. Provide them with regular feedback and remind them of why they are completing this project.
Innovator = Innovation is hard and requires the launch of multiple experiments in order to get to the final destination.

Tips for developing Passion Projects

- Allow a generous amount of time during ideation
- Put alot of time into the planning stages
- Work hard to drive enthusiasm/ motivation
- Bring in outside mentors to collaborate
- Create a deadline and stick to it
- Connect with others teachers using Passion Project time
- Celebrate at the end

Further Resources

Expert Genius Hour template

Motivational videos

Livebinders website

Planning Doc                                   

Genius Hour Reflections

6 tips to get started

St. Marks School-59 Genius Hour Projects 2015


Have a look at these short videos were students described their 'Passion Projects' to me.

Faith & Me World Religions Project

Faith & Me Popular Culture Project

- Thanks to Simon Ashby for sharing his awesomeness too!

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