Shelley Wright in her blog post “The Nuts & Bolts of 21st Century Teaching” gives a beautiful illustration of student-centered collaborative learning.
She discusses her struggles to let go of control. How it was difficult but so rewarding to allow the students to figure it out and just be a co-collaborator.
Her class was assigned to turn the classroom into a Holocaust museum. One group of students discovered that the average inmate only ate 300 calories a day.
“Some of them have since found out that you could eat a small fries from McDonalds, with McNugget sauce. Or ice cream & salad dressing for 300 calories. The discovered this while discussing our exhibit at McDonalds. I’m surprised how much they talk about this class outside of our scheduled class.”
When you allow your students to discover and collaborate with hands-on projects it is amazing how excited they get. Their curiosity and excitement help them to discover and retain more than they would if you just dictated to them.