Fourth grade students hone public speaking and research skills during Passion Project

Two fourth grade students present a project in front of the classFor the last six years, Jennifer Olds’ fourth grade classes at Herkimer Elementary has spent about 30 minutes a week researching something they’re passionate about. Dubbed “the passion project,” the activity helps get students excited about learning, Olds said.

“The projects are a class favorite. I wanted to give kids ownership of their learning and get them excited to learn,” she said.

“Passion Projects are my version of ‘genius hour,’ a project that began at Google that asks employees to spend 20 percent of their working time on a project of their choosing.”A fourth grade students present a project in front of the class

Throughout the year, students pick a topic they’re excited about such as Legos or sharks and then research it. They then put together a Google slideshow and share it with the class.

“The students are learning public speaking skills, how to research and create slides, and learning about a variety of topics from their peers,” Olds said. “They’re also collaborating with partners (some projects are done in groups), and learning how to become active listeners.”

Aubree Jones – who recently presented on lemurs – said she really enjoys the project.

“I can put out what I know and teach others about it,” she said.

Molly Philo also likes the project.

“My last topic was about how great Mrs. Olds is,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot about Google slides too.”

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