This phrase from chapter 3 resonates with me:
"Passion is the fuel that drives the immersion-reflection cycle."
And I agree that an architecture of wide walls, low floors, and high ceilings creates the right environment for students to discover a project that they are passionate about.
I create Low Floors by doing simple exercises with students at the start of a semester. This is the only time I will lead a class, really, and I let them know that. Doing this, just once, builds confidence in students and helps them get on the path of figuring stuff out with their peers and on their own.
I create High Ceilings by including weekly “maker appreciation” assignments. I do this by giving students a genre and then they have to find makers working in that genre and write about them and their work. They often find makers/projects that are working at an advanced level and this helps them understand how “high” they can take a project if they keep at it.
I create Wide Walls for my students by giving open prompts with constraints on materials, budget, and time. I also teach them how to brainstorm and evaluate their ideas (for the latter, I encourage them to start with ideas that are “wild” but also easy to execute). For many students, this works well. They find project ideas that they are excited about.
It gets hard for many students once that initial excitement wears off. For this, I like this phrase you have, “Hard Fun.” I will start using that. Giving difficult things a name is useful. Not just in class, but in life.
I also like a tip that Scott Belsky puts forth in his new book, The Messy Middle. He argues that the middle of a project is hard and that to get through it you must short-circuit your reward system. Create little goals for yourself along the way, even if they are silly. Kind of like the blue smoke badge, yes? These little goals emerge in the reflection part of the reflection-immersion cycle.
What tricks do you have for helping students keep their passion through the messy middle?