Curiosity Based Learning to Kick Start Your Year!
You've probably heard the acronyms and versions of the name: PBL, CBL, Project Based Learning, Problem Based Learning, Challenge Based Learning. Folks argue about semantics and the purity of the ideas, but most agree that in these models of learning, your students are actively engaged in some sort of an ongoing project rather than merely worksheets, quizzes or isolated activities. However the part of this philosophy I most ardently subscribe to is the authenticity piece. In my interpretation, all of these concepts (should) share the idea of genuine curiosity on the the part of the student. While some iterations are projects inspired by the teacher's imagination, truly powerful (fill-in-the-blank)-Based-Learning stem from a question or challenge that the students actively wish to explore. And as much as we try, teachers can't force or fake real student curiosity.
Some examples are solving community problems or improving school grounds, culture or climate. Others are getting involved in issues that matter to students (currently some students are wondering about Ferguson and how they can make a difference in the actions and equality in their communities).
For some more ideas for how to infuse Curiosity Based Learning (there you go, another acronym to add to the pile) into your classroom, check out this webinar that I recently did for McGraw-Hill Education with the amazing Ben Kovacs!