Making Equals Growing
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is integral to developing problem-solving mindsets. We’ve seen how powerful it is when educators discover that project-based learning can encourage positive working relationships, increase student engagement, and model constructive behaviors in their classrooms and programs. Hands-on learning also plays a critical role in advancing positive youth development —how teachers build authentic relationships with students, how learners improve relationships with each other, and how they use their self-awareness, self-management, and decision-making skills to navigate through their learning day. What they’re creating - the time they’re spending, the effort they’re making, the knowledge they’re applying, the creative risks they’re taking - belongs to them.
When educators understand and confidently integrate SEL with project-based objectives focus shifts from:
- Process success over product success
- Facilitation over evaluation
- Rewarding efforts through guidance and feedback over rubric-driven outputs
- Individual projects to encourage self-management are leveraged into group work & peer collaboration.
Educator confidence supports the authentic transfer of SEL strategies and practices. When learners are working with their hands - especially when those projects are destined to belong to that learner - educators can more directly encourage each participant's personal responsibility, choice, and self-reflection.
Measuring with Must, Should, and Could
FutureMakers has utilized a student-centered assessment approach we call the “must, should, and could.” The “must” defines what every learner can achieve without substantial support or redirection from peers or coaches, to meet the basic requirements of the design challenge. The “should” is how clearly each learner demonstrates their understanding of the underlying concepts, principles, or strategies clearly enough to coach or guide another student. The “could” represents the creative extensions and “stretch goals” that learners can choose to pursue after satisfying the requirements of the “should.”
Making is Knowing
Hands-on learning is an authentic pathway to help students simultaneously develop content knowledge, technical skills, and the growth mindset needed to solve real problems. When educators confidently approach SEL with hands-on design challenges - starting with independent student projects and following through opportunities for relationship-building - small hands with big ideas discover their passions for invention and serious play.