Johnston students explore passion-based learning

IMG 6128JOHNSTON, Ia. (May 20, 2022) — From the looks of it, students were just having a lot of fun.

From dancing to nature walks, cooking and baking, arts and crafts, miniature golf, yoga, show choir, tie die, bubble making, STEM activities, card games, photography and painting kindness rocks — Timber Ridge Elementary students had a day jam-packed with fun and exciting things. Small groups bustled from activity to activity in organized chaos.

But this is school, so there was a lesson here. Friday was “Dragon Dream Day: A Day of IMG 6121Discovering and Celebrating Our Passions!” The day was aimed at promoting passion-based learning.

“We know that students are more likely to learn if they are motivated by and engaged with the curriculum or project at hand,” said Kelley Harrison, principal at Timber Ridge Elementary. “When students are passionately engaged in their learning — when they are mesmerized by their learning environment or activities — there are myriad responses in their brains making connections and building schema that simply would not occur without that passion or emotion.”

Students got to select the activities they participated in. And they had a great time doing it. As members of the Johnston Varsity Dance Team showed them how to dance to the fight song, they didn’t hesitate to bust a move. And as students got ready to IMG 6096make pancakes, they were eager to share what they had for breakfast this morning.

“Much of what we ask kids to memorize has little emotional charge to it,” Harrison said. “Emotions can significantly alter the creation and recall of memories. People are better at remembering information that is emotionally charged rather than information that is neutral or flat.  Aside from influencing emotion, passionate engagement can empower students to feel in control of their own learning.”

Students were divided into 32 groups and attended six different sessions of activities. Dragon Dream Day extended from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Timber Ridge staff encouraged parents to continue the lesson by:

  • Sharing your own passions with your children. Passion is contagious. We aren’t likely IMG 6116to ignite the excitement of learning in your children if we aren’t excited ourselves.
  • Letting kids share their passions.It is important to let our students pursue their own passions individually, but it is equally important to let them share their passions with others. 
  • Introducing students to resources that help them exercise their passions.
  • Helping students find others who share the same passion.
  • Valuing all passions equally.
  • Surrounding your children with passionate people.