What Kinds Of Assignments Are Interesting To Students?
by Grant Wiggins, Ed.D, Authentic Education
Ed note: On May 26, 2015, Grant Wiggins passed away. Grant was tremendously influential on TeachThought’s approach to education, and we were lucky enough for him to contribute his content to our site. Occasionally, we are going to go back and re-share his most memorable posts. This is one of those posts. Thankfully his company, Authentic Education, is carrying on and extending the work that Grant developed.
This post is a follow-up to our recent post, Students Learn Best When You Do This. Now, in my final post from students at a typical US High School, I end on an upbeat note: what students say is the best assignment they have had this year. Again, I picked the first 47 answers at random. (Ed note: 2–numbers 28 and 40–were brutally honest, yes?)
46 Assignments And Activities That Were Fun For Students
- Earlier in the school year, we dissected frogs. Although they smelled, it was pretty fun.
- In psychology we were taught about the different ways you could test a hypothesis and prove/disprove them. The teacher had us run our own study. I tested people’s levels of bias. I dressed in all black, dyed my hair dark, and got my lip and nose pierced. It is honestly the best way I’ve ever been taught because I actually used the knowledge I’ve obtained.
- Bungee jumping Barbie in AP stats
- In my politics class we created political parties and conducted an election. It was interesting to have the debates and find what beliefs are related to me. I thoroughly enjoyed this activity and learned a lot about the political world
- Making posters on the iPads using images, self made images, text, and audio to explain a concept (anatomy). Using iBooks.
- I had a remix project in MPI and it was fun because I was able to have a lot of creative freedom.
- A band concert.
- Make a movie.
- In AP English, we had to read an independent book and then give a 25 minute presentation. It was a great learning process that really improved my speaking
- The twenty minute presentation that helped prepare me for speeches including ones that are a lot shorter.
- Dropping a Barbie in math class
- The most interesting work I was asked to do in class in the last few months was probably in my advanced English class. We had to pick a personal hero and write a paper about what they did that was heroic. It had to be an unsung hero and find a song that reminds you of them and make a visual as you presented to the project.
- Science labs, we outside sometimes and worked with many different things.
- Dissecting things in anatomy to see how their organs compare to humans
- Rock climbing, it felt nice to do something different and go on a field trip, and take a nice break from school
- I thought that making your own nation in politics was extremely interesting and fun. It was interesting because it gave us students the ability to design our perfect environment.
- Writing papers on a controversial topic is always fun since you’re able to fight for something you believe in for a grade
- Making a poster about a disease in anatomy because it showed me what are certain diseases are that I didn’t know about
- We had to do an egg drop activity In one of my physics class. I enjoyed this because it was actually something that teens were interested in, and the project was relatively easy and still invested you to think a little bit too.
- Giving a speech about a someone who was my hero. Also doing a fun poster board on a person.
- I enjoy doing history projects that have to do with your own families history. It’s interesting and easier since it has a connection to you.
- Egg drop in science
- Unsung hero project. Kurt Cobain is my bro
- Rube Goldberg in physics because that’s awesome it allows us to use our creativity to the max capacity
- In English we did many writings about ourselves and what our current interests are so we could look back on our high school selves later
- I used to love going on field trips as a child because they help me with staying interested in the unit and relating it to real life and not feel like I’m just learning pointless stuff out of a text book. In anatomy we just went on a field trip to body worlds and it was very interesting and I learned a lot.
- Dissecting many different things in anatomy. It is interesting to see the inside of body’s and body parts to see how they look instead of just pictures.
- In anatomy we have dissected a lot of interesting things. I particularly enjoyed
- Dissecting deer hearts. It is not often you hold a real heart so that was interesting
- 10 page research paper
- To play sports in PE class on teams competitively
- The Barbie bungee jump. It was funny to do.
- Crime in America the design a prison project it was fun and cool
- The activities and labs in both physics and anatomy made it very enjoyable to be in class during these years. It made actually think about how this could be put into the real world and actually study for such tests
- Anatomy labs because I like to learn about the human body with hands on labs
- For our AP French class we had to construct a resume and cover letter for a foreign French related career opportunity that we found. This is interesting as we earned a highly useful life skill that should’ve been taught in another class but also because we got to explore opportunities around the world.
- I like designing and performing my own labs in AP bio because it allows for ultimate freedom and creativity.
- I don’t know
- We had to stand in a tight circle and join hands. We had to make a jumble of limbs and untangle ourselves without letting go of each other’s hands. It was fun and entertaining.
- Dissections in anatomy class. It was something that most students don’t get to do a lot so it’s a rare opportunity
- Creative writing essays. I liked doing the poems unit. I was able to express myself and not get so hardly graded for my opinion on what creative writing is.
- There is really not that many interesting things in this school. Honestly learning could be so much better with more interactive teaching and having fun not notes and looking at a board the whole hour every hour.
- In anatomy we dissected a rat which was incredibly interesting and allowed me to understand the subject we were learning a lot better. Science is very challenging, but I enjoy it.
- Business class, the entrepreneur challenge. I liked it a lot.
- Make my own school and create a learning curriculum to get students interested.
By the way: over the years of asking this question, animal dissection is far and away the most repeatedly mentioned activity. Compare the many patterns here with the answers to how students best learn and what their advice is to teachers to improve class and the conclusions seem obvious, don’t they? What, then, is preventing the typical HS teacher from responding to the consistent feedback?