Recently, students were asked to create their own project and rubric for The Great Gatsby. I received some really good projects, but this one struck me as something really special. All projects needed to be approved before the students were allowed to start work, but I never expected this when my students asked to write a song for the book. Here is Maddie V's completed project,
Maddie wrote the music, played the piano and wrote the lyrics for this song. She did all of this while rehearsing and performing in the school's Spring Musical. For me, this is one of the best projects I have ever received for this unit. She gave me permission to post this on my website and tweet it out. I had to share this with all of the other teachers out there wondering about the value of projects over tests.
There is no doubt that Maddie could take a test on Gatsby and get an A. She is very bright and it would have been very easy for her. However, what would she have walked away with after acing the exam? With the project, she still has an A, but she has something she accomplished. A beautiful song she will have with her the rest of her life. When she thinks about Gatsby or the green light, she can think about a song she wrote and shared with the world. I'm always looking for reasons why people should dump their tests, and this is one of the best examples to date.
Maddie is going to go on and do some amazing things out there. How many kids are not being given the chance to express what they have learned because the multiple choice test is the "best" way a teacher can think of to assess? As teacher, we need to look for better ways to get the most out of our students. For me, projects have opened my eyes to the very different talents my students have and they have made me look at assessments in a different light. I hope this song is a light bulb for teachers considering Project Based Learning in the future.
If you liked the song, take a moment and leave Maddie a comment on YouTube or send her a tweet at @MADdy_skillz.