Interest Increases Engagement

April 30, 2019

We kicked off the first session of our school year with a group project based on the Avengers. This came off the momentum of Avengers: Infinity War. Our plan was to use the movie and characters as a springboard for rigorous (but engaging!) academic exercises.

The Guides carefully mapped out a session-long progression that would have students research characters, edit the script, and ultimately write and film a sequel to the movie. But after four weeks, we realized we had to make a change. Only a third of the group was genuinely interested in the project, and the rest of the students were simply going through the motions. This wasn’t a good use of their time. We moved on.

Two awesome lessons came out of this first project:

  1. Students will put in time and effort if a project is aligned with their interests.
  2. Projects based on interest are hard to pull off for an entire group of 11.

Now we try to tailor individual afternoon projects to students’ interest. For example, a student in Level 3 is working on a Hip-Hop research project that has him fired up about writing and reading this session. We encourage students to focus on their interests because we believe this increases engagement, which allows them to learn faster.

Everything we do at Alpha can be traced back to our promises. We make three promises to our students and their families:

  1. Students love school.
  2. Students learn 2X faster.
  3. Students learn life skills.