Independent studies are so powerful. They turn kids into self-motivated, empowered, active learners. They are given choice, and they flourish! I am so excited to share a really simple way to provide your students with independent studies: Passion Project Snippets. Basically, I created a cover for each topic, and I glued it to the front of a manila folder. You may opt to laminate the folder for extra durability, but you don’t have to. Then I created a cover page for a packet. I just ran all of the pages off onto regular paper. I wanted to keep this really simple to put together, and I wanted to ensure that there would be enough space to run off plenty of recording sheets to stuff inside. You can see the storage folder for my technology set and the cover to the resource packet below.
Inside of each packet, I have a direction sheet, and a few pages that support students in their research. Specifically, I created information sheets on evaluating websites, improving searches using for, and, and not, and how to verify accuracy online. I kept it concise, but I wanted to give students a little more support with this so they truly can work independently…and successfully.
I also included sample questions to get students thinking about possible research questions. Ideally, students will formulate their own essential questions, so these are not meant to be THE questions or to be a crutch. However, in my experience, I have always had students who struggled with getting started. I want students to research and present information in a coherent and accurate way. That is the goal. If this helps one or two students be successful with that, fantastic! Maybe when they choose another topic, they won’t have to rely on this list, and maybe they will have so many of their own questions that they won’t even want to look at it. That said, I like that it’s included to fall back on, as needed.
Each packet also includes few pages of possible topics. The technology pack a few pages of outdated technology as well as a few pages of current technology. This was a really popular topic when I asked my students what they’d like to see in an independent study center last year!
I included The Launching Pad as a way for students to choose various ways to present their new knowledge. This is a great way to tap into different learning modalities, and it really does yield amazing results! I use the same menu with my traditional Passion Projects too. Run it front to back and staple it to the planning sheets. Then stuff a few packets into it into the envelope, and you’ll be all set!
Ultimately, I feel like I’ve finally figured out how to make passion projects work on a repeating basis in the upper-elementary classroom. The extra layers of support make it so manageable, and it couldn’t be any easier to put together! It’s great for a center rotation, early finishers, or to use as a true independent study with a gifted and talented student who needs enrichment. No matter what, this resource is SURE to make an impact in your classroom. Happy teaching!