Activities to Generate Student Interest

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Exciting entry events to spark student interest on Day One:

(From the PBL Starter Kit, Buck Institute for Education 2009)

1. Give students a piece of correspondence (real or fictitious) presenting a challenge.

(Real) Memo from the school principal asks students to plan an “Olympics Day” event for the student body.

(Fictitious) An email message from the CEO of a business to employees describes the needs and asks for proposals.

 2. Have a discussion about an issue of interest or event in the news.

After a recent plane crash in the area, students discuss how it could have happened, leading to a project focused on the physics of flight.

 3. Review a website

Students visit various website where teenagers can find book recommendations, leading to project in which they design and create content for a website they think would be more effective.

 4. Invite a guest speaker  

A representative of the regional visitor’s bureau asks the class for help with promoting local attractions to various groups of potential tourists.

 5. Go on a field trip

Students visit a nearby shoreline and take note of the amount and type of litter they see, which generates interest in taking action to reduce it.

6. Conduct a demonstration or activity

Students play various card games and speculate about their chances of winning, leading to a project involving probability.

7. Show a video or scenes from a film, fictional or documentary

Scenes from a documentary on the Tuskegee Airmen builds student interest in a project about civil rights and integration in the military.

8. Read something provocative

The Ray Bradbury short story “All Summer in a Day” (in which a child in a colony on Venus is locked in a closet by peers on the only day of sunshine in seven years) kicks off an English class project about being an outcast.

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