Passion Driven Learning and the Technology that Supports It

Over the past few months, I’ve shared many of the creations that my nephew has made including his most recent venture into puppetry. Today, I wanted to take a moment to break down some specific examples of how his passions are fueling his learning.

I will admit that I did not get the true meanings of “Genius Hour” or “Passion Projects” until they started happening under my own nose. The growth that I’ve witnessed in him has been remarkable. I have to wonder what could be possible for other kids if we allowed more of their passions to fuel their educational journeys.

Research and Digital Citizenship

Research happens often

Research happens often

When we are driven by passion, learning happens out of desire. I’ve watched the kid conduct research using his ipad through every free moment that he could garner. He actually rushed through his school work to get to his “passion work”. As amazing as it would be if they were one and the same, that is not the case.

Research happens through google, youtube and even through product reviews. He looks at what others think and determines if the product or skill is worth his time. In the spirit of Austin Kleon’s, Steal Like an Artist, Braeden kept a database of learning through his ipad. He saved images, videos, and screen shots of websites which have inspired all of his creations. To be clear, he did this out of his own natural patterns.

What we have to work on is creating a cloud based system of saving as these captures take a great deal of memory. We’re looking at the Educlipper App for that as capturing could happen while in the app versus outside.



Core Learning Beyond Standards

Braeden's puppet Uvula at the top

Braeden’s puppet Uvula at the top

Forgive me for sleeping in science, but I had never heard of the word “uvula” until Braeden’s puppet. Disney and youtube taught him this. His research taught him about its scientific function.

In the past few weeks, I’ve heard him talk about proportion in ways that he won’t even see for a few grade levels. He’s dilating patterns in order to make his puppets four times as big as the patterns that he sees on youtube.

Learning is applied because of a need. Who needs worksheets when you have moments such as this?

Writing for him was a bit of a struggle. He created a show and wants to be sporadic. At the same time, the “perfectionist” in him demands to re-record take after take after take.

The time that it has taken to capture the moment that he envisioned demanded that he learned to write.

Becoming a Story Teller

Google drive on chromebbok is the tool of choice for script writing

Google drive on chromebbok is the tool of choice for script writing

Braeden’s puppets were created with the intention of creating a show. He developed characters and practiced several voices before settling on the few that he has. He learned how to “set a scene” and write incorporating a beginning, middle and end. There is no state test looming that required this.

With google docs, he shares his script with me. The first time, I worked with him in order to teach him how to use it. The second time that he did it was a lone effort.

An interesting thing happened as he watched his shows back to back. He noticed an inconsistency in the story and took notes to address it in the future.

We call that reflection.


Failure is Instructional

Behind the scenes creating the Lenny show

Behind the scenes creating the Lenny show

Not every puppet turned into a masterpiece. Some of them ended up scrapped and eventually becoming parts of other puppets. For example, Lenny the Lizard was created with an arm sleeve. The arm sleeve was a failed puppet from before. Braeden says that mistakes are times for learning. He thinks that failure helps him because it shows us our mistakes.

Learning from a place of passion can take us to places that we have yet to imagine. If you asked me months ago if these moments were possible, I would not have had an answer.

Seeing is believing but experience is powerful.

Current grade level: 3rd


Lenny the Lizard Episode 2

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  1. Pingback: Passion Driven Learning and the Technology that Supports It THEMIC Partners in 21st Century Learning

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