I have been making great strides in the move away from compliance learning and toward engagement learning. I want my learners to do the work because it is fun and interesting, and not simply because I said so. Biology is a mind-blowing field of study, though traditional high approaches mostly make it anything but engaging. I recall scads and scads of notes, worksheets, and coloring during my time as a high school biology student, but the world has changed, and so too should the methods of the high school biology teacher.

I owe a lot of credit to Daniel Pink and his book, “Drive,” as his data and musings on autonomy, mastery, and purpose really resonated with me. This semester’s Biodiversity Project AMP was my attempt to incorporate some of Pink’s ideas into my classroom environment, with a dash of A. J. Juliani’sInquiry and Innovation in the Classroom,” for guidance on the specific steps, deliverables, assessment options, and timeline of a passion project or genius hour.

Of 46 AMP Projects, 39 learners have presented their Ted Talk-esque summative, and many have resulted in real, useful products, either at the level of the classroom, within the school community, or in some cases, beyond the walls of the school. I wanted Project AMP to be about the learning and not the number in Power School, but as Pink’s research has suggested, an award after the fact can serve to reinforce the positivity we have already developed. As such, I have spent part of today using Creative Commons clip art and GAFE towards the development of “Certificates of Appreciation.” Here are two samples:

Certificates of Appreciation_NamesCertificates of Appreciation_Names (1)

I could definitely get better at this, but for now, “I’m feeling good.


Juliani, A. J. (2015). Inquiry and innovation in the classroom: Using 20% time, genius hour, and PBL to drive student success. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group: New York.

Pink, D. (2009). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.