In this “one minute hit” Alec answers one of the biggest questions teachers have about project-based learning.
As project-based teachers, we all sometimes need to teach kids things that don’t fit neatly into projects. For example, a kid should feel confident using a semicolon, even if the editorial is submitting to the local newspaper, and the letters they’re writing to their local representatives won’t benefit from semicolons.
So what’s a teacher to do? You don’t want a kid to make their writing worse by shoehorning in some irrelevant semicolons, but you want their learning to be authentically different by the project. By way of solution, here is an analogy with the basketball team.
When a basketball team is training for a big game, sometimes they scrimmage. That is they prepare for the game by literally playing games of basketball with each other. Sometimes, they focus in on a specific skill, like shooting drills or passing drills. But sometimes, they go to the gym and lift weights and work out on machines. And what they do at the gym isn’t explicitly connected to basketball at all, but it’s building up the muscles they will need in order to win the big game.
Those skills that don’t fit into your project or the academic equivalent of going to the gym, doing a Romanian deadlift at the gym may not look much like playing basketball. But the player who put in the time doing those deadlifts is going to be getting more rebounds. The same goes for the student who mastered the semicolon, even though she wasn’t using it in her editorial.