The "Thinking Time"

Presenting a project-based learning opportunity to my students is always interesting for me but I had an epiphany this week. 

I was explaining a persuasive iMovie trailer project to my first class of the day and noticed that while students were viewing this rubric the room got quiet--very quiet. The normal sounds you would hear with 25+ adolescents in the room were non-existent. I realized then it was because the students were internalizing the work they would be doing over the next few days.  I observed this "Thinking Time"--these students were wondering how they would complete their project with group members I chose for them. It was a very cool moment but I wanted to see if it was just this particular class. Sure enough, the rest of my classes that day did the very same thing--they got really quiet and internalized the requirements. (I will now be looking for this phenomenon every time I present a project!)

This made me realize, once again, the necessity of group project-based learning. Students need practice with open-ended activities, especially in social studies. These young people will be encountering countless situations in their lives with no definitive solutions and problems with varying degrees of satisfactory alternatives. They will need to be able to analyze pros and cons, make and defend claims, and find workable solutions and compromises in order to be successful citizens. 

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