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K2 Passion Projects: Taking ownership of learning

Ben Morley, Former Vice Principal, Infant School, East Campus

Anyone familiar with K2 at East knows that it is an extremely passionate place. In and around the classroom, we are always looking for ways that encourage the children to take ownership of their learning so as to make it a more profound experience. As a teaching team, we had long toyed with the idea of a ‘Passion Projects’ unit in K2 and decided the three weeks at the start of Term 2 before the Chinese New Year break was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

The ‘Passion Projects’ unit began by exploring what a passion is and what makes something a passion.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines passion, as “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something.” The UWCSEA learning programme encourages students to pursue their passions but as many adults know, life has a tendency to get in the way, and our passions can become neglected or, worse, abandoned and forgotten. What’s more, while we encourage the children to take their learning into the ‘real world,’ rarely are they tasked with bringing some of their interests into school.

The ‘Passion Projects’ unit began by exploring what a passion is and what makes something a passion.

The ‘Passion Projects’ unit began by exploring what a passion is and what makes something a passion. Once the children had chosen their passion, they also considered why that passion was important to them. They used a ‘Passion Projects Map’ to guide them through the process, recording their thinking at various stages throughout the three weeks.

The teachers introduced various tools to guide students through the inquiry process using visual thinking techniques to find a colour to represent their passion and, again, explain the reason behind their selection. They also researched their passions; using the K-W-L graphic organiser, they recorded what they already knew about their passion, what they wanted to know and, ultimately, what they had learned. To complete the ‘L’ section the children carried out their own research, using a variety of sources, including the internet, books, adult experts and even DVDs.

The ‘Passion Projects’ unit began by exploring what a passion is and what makes something a passion.

Once they completed their research, they began to think about how to present their passion to the class. Different presentation techniques were explored and everyone had the opportunity to try out the various styles. The only requirements for the presentations were that they be no longer than two minutes and include why they had chosen their particular passion.

On the day of the presentations, the excitement was palpable! The children brought in all sorts of photographs, props and artefacts to support their presentations. Some children’s presentations included demonstrations, audience interaction and short videos. Across the grade, the variety of passions was incredible … art, horse riding, Star Wars, cooking, karate, football, gymnastics, iPads, Lego, dinosaurs, writing, reading, magic, singing, dancing, animals, skateboarding, flying, planets, rope trampolining and, even, skiing and ice-skating … difficult as they may be to pursue in Singapore. You can see examples of the presentations in the video at the right.

The variety of presenting styles was also a testament to how the unit allowed the children to express themselves in a way that they felt comfortable. After each presentation, the presenter fielded two or three questions from the audience and, of course, received a warm round of applause.

Following the presentations, the children were given the opportunity to reflect on their ‘Passion Projects.’ The children considered what having this insight into others’ passions might mean to our class community. We decided that it makes life more interesting and exciting that we do not all share the same passion. We also concluded that understanding more about our peers could only make our class a happier place to learn.

As teachers, we were so pleased with the enormous level of engagement, enthusiasm and genuine inquiry that we saw across the grade. The experience clearly resonated deeply with the children and it is something we hope to revisit in future years. In addition, the unit perfectly showcased the UWCSEA profile skills of critical thinker, creative, communicator and self-manager.

After sharing a short iMovie montage of the presentations with parents at our student-led conferences, we were inundated with requests by mums and dads to share their passions with the children. We enjoyed presentations about chemistry, film making, guitar, jewellery making, make up artistry, drumming, reading, running, Yoga, art … it was wonderful.

Keep the passion alive.

  • East Campus