The meteoric rise of project-based learning (PBL) in recent years has resulted in a range of books, resources and models. Few are as practical and accessible as 'Are Humans Wild at Heart? and Other Epic English Projects for Years 9-10'. Published earlier this year, it presents a approach to PBL aligned to the Australian curriculum, with a particular focus on secondary English. Bianca and Lee Hewes have distilled the learnings from many projects to create a great option for English teachers looking to bring PBL into their classroom.
The book opens with about fifteen pages introducing the concept of PBL and stepping through some of the key components - driving questions, hook lessons, external experts and so on. It also touches on how assessment works within PBL, which is often an area of confusion.
The remainder of the book is made up of ten sample projects - five for Year 9, five for Year 10. Each is a standalone project that can be picked up and used, including plenty of options, reproducible materials, and handy tips. Each project also gives the authors the chance to explore part of the model in a bit more depth - providing and discussing two different driving questions in one project, and including a detailed project calendar in another. All up, the collection should give readers confidence not only to try the projects included but to have a go at constructing their own.
Perhaps the most significant complaint about 'Are Humans Wild at Heart?' is the obvious one - its limited scope. While it's a wonderful resource for Stage 5 English teachers, the rest of us will just have to wait until the folk at Hawker Brownlow convince Bianca and Lee to write some more!