Indy Third-Graders Explore Passions

Indy Third-Graders Explore Passions with Personal Learning Projects
Posted on 01/23/2019
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indy 3rd graders with projects

Did you know that human DNA is 50 percent identical to the DNA of bananas? Third grade students at Independence Elementary School learned interesting facts like this and more while researching their Personal Learning Projects (PLP). 

“During the time from Thanksgiving break until winter break, the third graders at Indy have no ‘formal’ homework,” explained Annette Long, a third-grade teacher at the school. “Instead, we asked students to work on a Personal Learning Project.” 

Sometimes called Genius Hour or Passion Projects, PLPs are a chance for students to explore a topic they are interested in and present their findings. The students hosted a gallery walk prior to winter break to share the information they learned. “This lets you learn about something you love,” said Hailey Hovenga, a student in Mrs. Haker’s class. “I love space and want to be an astronaut,” she explained as she talked about the solar system she created. 

Archer Bimonte used the PLP as an opportunity to learn more about hammerhead and great white sharks. His display included models of the sharks he created using the school’s 3D printer. “This educates you on something you’re interested in,” he said. 

An interest in technology was also apparent. Nathan Lee enjoys using the coding LEGOs in the school’s STEAM2 lab. “It caught my interest so I wanted to learn more about it,” he said. Nathan proceeded to write a code that not only writes numbers up to one million, but also notes which number is odd or even. When asked how long it took to write, Nathan shrugged and said, “About 10 minutes.” 

Visitors at the gallery walk were able to learn about a wide-range of topics, from a student’s family tree, to pandas, to how ice cream is made. “This is the best thing we’ve done,” said Long.

Instead of traditional 'homework', Independence third graders were asked to work on a Personal Learning Project (pictured: Hailey Hovenga and Archer Bimonte).