When I work with teachers and in the curriculum classes that I teach, we’re always trying to come up with ideas to get students more engaged in a way that also makes the lessons more rigorous. Project-based learning is a good way to do that. It will depend on the age, the kid, and their interest, but there are lots of ways to encourage a deep dive into something students are really excited about.

If you’re a physics teacher, for example, instead of having students read a chapter from a textbook and answer a problem set, you can give them something real to explore, like skateboarding or throwing a baseball. They can run some experiments on their own to try to figure out the physics behind it, about balance or friction or how distance equals rate multiplied by time.

Students may want to create their own video tutorials on something they love to do and include some background research. They could research the process for making chocolate or other favorite foods. They might want to interview an older relative or neighbor to explore their life history or their family tree.

There are so many resources online for project-based learning, free lesson plans that teachers and parents can use for inspiration. I hope that, in addition to whatever worksheets they assign, teachers will tell kids, “I want you to pick one project that you’re really excited about and go deep.” Because then it’s part of school and they’re getting credit for it and some guidance from the teacher on how to do it, but it’s also fun and there’s choice involved.

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