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Review of the Literature

With the seniors help, we need to examine the senior year for what should stay the same and what can be altered in small and even big ways. Perhaps we teachers should recognize that the academic growth that has been our worthy stock in trade for many years must be not abandoned, not cheapened, but altered to suit the seniors changed circumstances.
(Sizer, p. xxvii) _____________________________________________________________________________

Schools have been under fire in recent years. Why are our schools not preparing students for success? the work world
wonders. This pressure has prodded public school teachers into the struggle to make sure that no chil d is left behind, forcing them to prepare students for the tests that will presumably prove the childs readiness for college and the working world. Other schools have emerged with an opposition to such tests as the ultimate indicator of success and elect to teach students through projects or the pursuit of inquiry. Regardless of the method of instruction, or acquisition, of learning, the big question remains: What should the final test or experience of required schooling look like? It is important to consider not only the scaffolding of content across grade levels, but the scaffolding of the method of delivery. The culmination of required learning in the United States should not be a guarantor of success, but a means of transition into the next phase of life. We call it the senior year, and this phrase alone generates a variety of nostalgic and lighthearted connotations, often more pejorative than indicative of true growth. But, who are these teens labeled senior? How should their role as a student look different from that of previous years as they prepare to transition to college and elsewhere? Can students be supported while designing and developing projects that will indicate their readiness? What will enable students to truly own their learning? My own concern arises from my work with seniors at a project-based-learning school. I plan to examine the aforementioned questions in depth as I seek the most affirming transitional experience for these young adults as they move into a world that demands a spike in responsibility upon graduation. I will be conducting an action research project in pursuit of the question, What happens when 12th-graders co-design projects? I hope to better understand how to facilitate a group of students to develop awareness of their own roles as co-designers in a democratic, project-based-learning environment.

Senior Year
Who Are These Seniors?
Since my action research would focus on a particular period of schooling, it was important to begin by examining one of the first questions above: Who are these students? Are they simply younger-looking adults? overdeveloped children? or somewhere in between? When examining the world of the seventeen- and eighteen-year-old, it is important to consider not the deceptive exterior that puberty has cloaked them with, but the internal workings of the teen mind. It is here, after all, where learning occurs.

There are two overlapping schools of thought on the notorious teenage brain. According to child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Jay Giedd of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the teenage brain differs from the adult brain in one notable respect: the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is our rational center, the part of our brain that allows us to use logic and to make rational decisions. This does not reach full development until approximately the age of 25. This is why teens are often accused of being impulsive risk-takers. In fact, they are. Unlike adults, they often go with their gut rather than flexing their developing rational muscles. While at 16, most teens Figure 1.1 The Prefrontal Cortex (NIMH) have mature parietal and temporal lobes that allow for greater emotional and tactile understanding (ACT For Youth Upstate Center of Excellence, 2002), they are less self-aware and reasonable than the adults they may sometimes be mistaken for. Requesting that they act more like adults is, actually, a neurological challenge. Dr. Robert Epstein, however, maintains that the myth of the teenager is more of a Western social construct. In fact, he asserts, teens are no less capable than adults. He cites anthropological studies of teens in preindustrial and non-Westernized societies who are not confined simply to the exposure to those of their own age group, but consistently work alongside adults to develop skills. Epstein suggests that the unreadiness that many late teens and those in their twenties experience is called an extended childhood that can be attributed to the fact that many have been isolated in learning communities that do not encourage and allow the exposure to other, more mature adults that can strengthen their synaptic pathways [Figure 1-c] within the brain that encourage for strong decision-making (Epstein, 2007). This suggests that if teens are immersed in the teen/peer culture that schools encapsulate them in, they are not allowed the exposure to adults that would allow them to work toward developing the ability to make rational decisions. Every function in the child's cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people (interpsychological) and then inside the child (intrapsychological). This applies equally to voluntary attention, to logical memory, and to the formation of concepts. All the higher functions originate as actual relationships between individuals" (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 57).While the teenage brain is rapidly pruning its dendrites (or unused pathways in the brain), this time period is critical for them to exercise their frontal lobe more frequently in the company of adults. It seems imperative for adults to recognize
Figure 1.2. The Developing Brain (Gogtay, N., et. al., 2004).

their responsibility in this process. Rather than simply acting as evaluators of the decisions teens make, they must provide models and invite more opportunities for practice. This can be a struggle in the current model of education. Teens are surrounded by their peers more often than adults and Epsteins research suggests that the more exposure to adults and adult-like behaviors, the more likely teens will be to develop not only the practice, but the biological synapses, necessary to navigate into adulthood.

Figure 1.3 Nerve impulses travel from one neuron to another

What Does the Senior Year Feel Like?

Nancy Faust Sizer illuminates the emotional chaos (p. xvii) that also marks the world of the senior. She discusses how the senioritis that runs rampant when the spring semester arrives (and sometimes months before) is due to their coexistence not only in the world of the adult, but in three time zones: the past, present, and future. Students are splaying their past onto college applications and are asked to measure its worth. Meanwhile, they are preparing for the big breakup (p. xviii) with their childhood, their friends, and all that is familiar to them. They want to embrace the present, but are watching it slip away as they wonder what they will have the opportunity to face in the future. This transition, Sizer contends, is often more difficult than we remember. She highlights the cultural imperatives that have seeped into our collective mindset. Seniors grow up with a certain mythological understanding of twelfth grade because the magic of senior year is often conveyed through the selective memories adults share of their own experience. She shares that the archetypal senior hero of these stories faces challenges, but somehow emerges with a magical maturity. The emphasis here is on somehow, Sizer continues. In our memories, the transformation was magical Hence the assumptions that surround the experience of the senior year (p. xx). Seniors grow up with the idea that there are things they should be feeling or doing simply because they have inherited the title of senior. The y have inherited the crown now when does the magical transformation take place? Sizer argues that this is a paradigm that must be reconsidered. When the seniors feel that almost desperate darkness (p. xxiii) when the magic doesnt just happen, they start to question the system that led them here. They wonder what they have really learned all these years in school Is it enough for the next step? This is where we non-seniors must step in. High schools, colleges, and the workplace need to help students recognize how much they know and are able to do in order to perform well, in whatever arena, after high school (Sizer, 2002, p. xxiv). While they can identify how many courses they have passed, they carry a lot of subliminal nervousness about whether or not they are truly ready for the world post-breakup. Fearing the truth, they recline into the safety of proclaiming their status. We are the (magic) seniors Just watch! Something is supposed to happen! Instead of maintaining the myth, we need to help them take pride in their work and recognize them as they are. We need to help them value learning for its sake, rather than the point value to be tallied up. Ideally, this should begin much earlier than the 12th grade in order to empower

students to own their learning and not simply to limp away from high school wondering whether or not they did anything worthwhile.

What Should the Senior Year Look Like?

This suggests that the structure of the highest level of high school should appear much different than that of the elementary, middle, and even lower-level high school years. The senior year should enable students to have increasing opportunities to behave in the manner they are expected to upon graduation. Though, at age eighteen, they are still developing the frontal lobe, it is imperative for the school to enable more opportunities for decision-making. Students, frankly, have grown out of the old model of schooling, no matter what form it may take, if it continues to repeat itself each year. The mode of instruction, or construction, of the courses must change in order to allow for them to decide what papers to write, what characters to analyze, what historical figures to analyze. They need to practice setting goals and seeing them through (Sizer, 2002, p.177). Several alternative formations of the senior year have become popular in recent years. Many schools propel students toward rigor, encouraging them to wade the (free) waters of the AP curriculum and take courses that will qualify them to test out of general education courses in college; other schools even offer joint college or middle college programs in which students spend one class (or more) per day on a college campus. Still others insist that seniors should take on some sort of internship or apprenticeship in order to gain exposure to the real world. Larry Rehage and Janice Dreis constructed the Senior Instructional Leadership Corps (SILC) at New Trier High School, highlighting the need for seniors to act as instructional assistants in order to effectively give back to the younger students of the school, while working alongside the teachers to design and deliver content. The latter measure, particularly, seems to fit the transitional space that seniors occupy. They need to work in Vygotskys zone of proximal development (ZPD) with mature adults who can co-design classes with them, capitalizing on their youthful innovation, while reeling in their pie-inthe-sky ideas to create actionable agendas (Vygotsky, 1978). Simultaneously, they have the opportunity to exemplify leadership for their younger peers, who may or may not have the same emotional maturity that the senior does. They are truly in a state of transition: looking ahead through co-leadership with an adult, while guiding less experienced, younger learners in another form leadership. Giving students opportunities to take on richer leadership roles while making decisions in the company of adults seems to offer seniors the best of both social learning worlds. While Diedd and his colleagues acknowledge the evolving nature of his study of the brain, he firmly contends (and seems to agree with Epstein) that, At a minimum, the data suggest that teens need to be surrounded by adults and institutions that help them learn specific skills and appropriate adult behavior. But within that fairly obvious suggestion are many more challenging and specific questions. For example, if teens are not the full neurological equivalent of adults, what specific systems and practices will best help them grow and mature in appropriate ways? What opportunities will be most effective in helping them develop the skills of judgment, planning and impulse control? What styles of parenting and teaching can most help teens develop into solid adults? Under what circumstances should teens be allowed to make their own choices and under what circumstances should directed guidance be offered and options limited? (Weinberger, Elvevg, & Diedd, 2005, p. 3) Thus, it is imperative for seniors to practice decision making in the company of adults and for adults to be sensitive to their need to do so. I spent a lot of time looking into possible models for the senior year and have tried different things in my classroom before deciding that it would be best for students to design projects as a class. In most cases, the capstone work done by seniors is very individual. When I tried this in a class meant for group endeavors, it separated us all. It didnt seem right to have a group of twenty-five who work alongside one

another all day to suddenly branch off. As I read more Dewey, Wolk, and Beane (and began to think deeply about scaffolding), I decided that part of what seniors can experience is working together in a manner that goes beyond doing a project, but democratically creating a project together. In the next section, I will explore first what a project is before moving into how co-design is being practiced to varying degrees in classrooms around the world, and how it will look in my action research.

Why PBL?
Students across the globe have been exposed to project-based learning in various forms, and students in my High Tech High International classroom bring a range of experiences with them. A project involves the proposal of a question one has and hopes to answer through the development of a project. The project is an essential piece that must not only be constructed and designed, but reflected upon and shared with others. In its most unbalanced form, the teacher is the designer, and the students are the doers. Although they almost always have voice and choice within these projects, my view is that older students should assume a more central role project design. This means that students should adopt a richer role of responsibility, ownership, and democratic participation in their projects. Students at High Tech High, who have been acculturated into the world of project design through a range of participation levels, are poised to take the reins as they grow nearer to graduation. By becoming co-designers, my hope is that they embrace a greater role in the design process they have born witness to. If students have gone through the motions of project participation throughout their years, it is essential for them to move into a position that allows that them to take ownership over the process. Thus, when they graduate, they feel that they have graduated into the realm of project designer, in which they learn to work with one another to produce real, meaningful projects in the world around them. Clearly, ownership would be hard to avoid as students work with one another.

What exactly is PBL? The Nuts and Bolts

Project-based learning (in its most naked form) is a form of acquiring and exhibiting learning. There is a clear end goal: the product. The means to making that product come to life necessitates the learning of new skills, habits, or content. While there are numerous addendums to this general mandate, the product as the end target remains a constant. The aim is now clear: the project. But, what drives students to want to complete this project? What distinguishes this project from simply taking a test? A test can certainly necessitate the acquisition of new skills, content, and even study habits. According to the Buck Institute of Education, the project must be much richer than a simple display, or diagnostic, of ones learning. Instead, the project can motivate and drive students to learn. When the project is real, or can allow students to address community issues, explore careers, interact with adult mentors, use technology, and present their work to audiences beyond the classroom, students see their work interact with the real world and realize the purpose of the learni ng that necessitates the completion of the project (Buck Institute of Education [BIE], 2012) This purpose outside the classroom clearly serves to foster the senior students increasingly acute awareness of ones role in life, increased concern for others, and increased concern for the future (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry [AACAP], 2011). While the purpose of these projects becomes clearer for older students, the project itself can serve as an equalizer. When a group works together to complete a clearly-defined project, decisions are made in accordance with producing the best outcome. This frees the teacher from imposing authority. Instead, the

project acts as the authority and students must make decisions about how best to serve it. This can be equated to a mission statement. We are all here to serve the purposes of this project, and thus collective peerto-peer and student-adult discussions can be rooted in this. Elisabeth Soep describes this as collegial pedagogy in her 2005 article, Youth Radio and the Pedagogy of Collegiality (Soep & Chavez, 2005). Likening the practices at Youth Radio to those endorsed by Paulo Freire and bell hooks, she insists that the decisions made when youth and adults work together to create media projects are focused not only on each other but on a set of outside considerations related to what they want their work to accomplish (Soep & Chavez, 2005, p. 420). In this case, the outside audience is composed of the Youth Radio listeners. Decisions are made based upon what the audience needs to hear and how the message should be delivered... not how the teacher says. Soep further explains that this allows the teachers and students to work together for a purpose. She explains that Together, these individuals must project a life for their work beyond themselves and their own personal self-interest, as they are also accountable to the immediate and longer-term impact of their join productions... We understand [this] as the spirit of collective responsibility that provides a container for even the most challenging voices to say what they think and why (Chavez and Soep, 2005, p. 430).

Collegial Pedagogy and the Role of the Educator

One difference that must be noted between the role of the adult collaborator and the role of the educator is the expansive lens with which the educator must review and preview the experience of each of her students. Just as a doctor must review the file of his patient, or an employee review the portfolio of an applicant, the educator must delve deeply into the students personal and academic portfolio of prior experiences. This, in fact, is where the project must begin. One critique of progressive education is the assumption that there is a tendency to rely on experiential spontaneity as the first step to learning. Although tackling a difficult problem may generate excitement, John Dewey makes it clear that it is the educators responsibility to guide learners through a continuum of learning, insisting that ...there is a decided difference between using them in the development of a continuing line of activity and trusting to them to provide the chief material of learning (Dewey, 1938, p. 79). Dewey reiterates the point throughout Experience and Education that the role of the educator in a progressive educational setting should not be one of minimal guidance, or concocter of arbitrarilydesigned or purposeless projects, that may , according to Kirshner, Sweller & Clark, short-sightedly tax a students working memory (2006). Instead, the educator has a greater challenge to refuse any unformed or preformed curriculum in favor of acknowledging where students are and determining an experience that will propel them into newer learning: It thus becomes the office of the educator to select those things within the range of existing experience that have the promise and potentiality of presenting new problems which by stimulating new ways of observation and judgments will expand the area of further experience (Dewey, 1938, p. 75). The educator, as one who works to facilitate growth in her students understandings, must also be sure that the student is aware of his or her own capabilities. This should not only occur at the outset of a project, but throughout the duration. Dewey cites this as an essential step that actually prevents the educator from becoming the dictator. If students are not reminded to constantly review and assess the ...development of the intellectual content of experiences and to obtain ever-increasing organization of facts and ideas may in the end merely strengthen the tendency toward a reactionary return to intellectual and moral authoritarianism (Dewey, 1938, p. 86) Kirschner, Sweller and Clark agree that The goal is to give learners specific guidance about how to cognitively manipulate information in ways that are consistent with a learning goal, and store the result in long-term memory (p.77). Their research reveals that if educators allow students to dig freely into problems with which they have little experience with which to tackle, their working memory is heavily

taxed. Problem-solving places a huge burden on working memory (Sweller, 1988; Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark, 2006). When using problem-solving, there is a limit to what students brains can handle. If the working memory is too heavily taxed, nothing will be stored in long-term memory. Thus, knowing where students begin their learning experience and how to help them facilitate it into their long-term memory is a critical piece of the educators role in the a project-based learning environment. In addition, the learning should not end when the project does. By establishing checks throughout the project, students must be encouraged to note that the ... ideas or hypotheses are tested by the consequences which they produce when they are acted upon. This fact means that the consequences of actions must be carefully and discriminately observed. Activity that is not checked by observation of what follows from it may be temporarily enjoyed, but intellectually it leads nowhere. It does not provide knowledge about the situations in which action occurs nor does it lead to clarification and expansion of ideas (Dewey, 1938 p. 87). For it is the process of learning and the recognition of what has transpired that will lead to future learning experiences. Carl Rogers noted that, The most socially useful learning in the modern world is the learning of the process of learning, a continuing openness to experience and incorporation into oneself of the process of change (Rogers, 1969, p.163) While an experience may be novel and unique, students can call upon the processes they explored in previous projects to solve current (and future) problems. Clearly, this manner of progressive, project-based, and democratic exploration of learning does not happen by accident. The educator is a practitioner of carefully-guided learning experiences and must enable students to recognize and evaluate their own skills as learners. This takes time and careful planning. Teachers must also recognize the content knowledge that students will need to take action. Rogers requests that the teacher makes resources available (Rogers, 1969, p. 164) Novice learners require more guidance and more access to content knowledge. The teacher, herself, is a resource of content knowledge, and should remember this, rather than to completely remove herself from the process of imparting knowledge. Students should be able to use her as a resource who is also a professional able to determine when to impart information and when to guide the student toward it. Not everything need be an impossible scavenger hunt. Novice learners simply dont have the same arsenal of problem-solving tools that an expert in the field does. Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark remind us of the teachers essential role: may be a fundamental error to assume that the pedagogic content of the learning experience is identical to the methods and processes (i.e. the epistemology) of the discipline being studied and a mistake to assume that instruction should exclusively focus on methods and processes (p. 78). Though a teacher aiming to participate in her democratic classroom as a fellow, eager learner, she must remember her role in establishing a true learning environment. This can come about, slowly, and in a scaffolded release. Rogers asserts that, As the acceptant classroom climate becomes established, the facilitator is able increasingly to become a participant learner, a member of the group, expressing his views as those of one individual only (Rogers, 1969, p. 164). Thus, the teacher neednt forget her role as an important, and uniquely experienced, member of this classroom.

Why co-design is the next step
Students are about to enter the post-high-school world and will be asked to make many choices about what they will do next. They make an enormous leap from being under the legal control of the authorities in their lives and have so many more options. Turning eighteen means that young adults have the option to attend school, the option to vote, the option to buy a car, the option to open a bank account, but they also have the responsibility to participate in jury duty, the responsibility to pay taxes on time, etc. Just as we fear that

parents who coddle and control their children are hampering the growth and self-efficacy of young adults, teachers must be aware that limiting students participation in deciding what and how they will learn might hinder their ability to take ownership over their own learning. Luckily, at High Tech High International, my students are familiar with choice. They are comfortable choosing a role they will adopt with a teacher-designed project. If we are scaffolding properly, students roles should shift from role-choosers (selecting how they will contribute to a project) to co-designers (working with the teachers/mentors/peers to develop a project) to, upon graduation, designers of their own learning experience as they prepare for life after graduation.

What can co-design look like?

Setting the stage: How to establish an environment of trust
Setting classroom norms can provide a sense of structure for the students, the teacher(s), and the school community. This is a democracy, not anarchy, and structure that is co-designed by teachers and students can be the first step to creating a safe community that students truly own. Steven Wolk, author of A Democratic Classroom, asserts that when students and teachers collaboratively determine and regularly discuss the structure of their classroom, it creates a sense of internal responsibility within each individual involved to uphold (Wolk, 1998, p.79). Wolk explains that the structure is taught as a democratic responsibility, a way of life inside the classroom (Wolk, 1998, p. 79). The rules are not imposed to avoid the headache of keeping kids on task; instead, they are collectively decided upon. When students begin co-designing the structures of their class, they are laying the foundation that they pledge to work within. Ironically, this co-design of the structure of the classroom allows for the life within it to bubble and build. When participants in the classroom have decided which structures will best allow those within it to learn and to do, teachers and students cannot arbitrarily cite violators; instead, they identify violations of the structures declared by the republic of the class. John Dewey analogized this practice to that of playing a game. Games do not go on haphazardly or by a succession of improvisations. Without rules there is no game, he insists (Dewey, 1938, p. 52). He goes on to discuss that the rules are a part of the game. They are not outside of it. The rules exist for the game to exist, just as the structures of the classroom exist for the classroom itself to flourish. If the student plays a role in creating the rules of the game, when he feels a decision is not fair and becomes angry, it will be not at the rule itself, which s/he determined just, but at the violation of that rule (Dewey, 1938, p. 53). When a baseball player slides into second base and is deemed out a micro-second before the shortstop tags the base, he may call into question the umpires call, but he is unlikely to question or quibble with the rule that if an infielder tags a base before the batter reaches it, the runner is, indeed, out. This is a critical step when building a class of co-designers. Students and teachers must develop and internalize the structures that will allow learning to take place. When the practice of co-designing seems messy and chaotic, these structures will provide a necessary sense of support as students work to determine what and how they will learn in the classroom.

Assessing Prior Knowledge

An important part of this community building, an essential bridge into the co-design process, will be assessing students understanding of project-based learning and PBL. For the purposes of my research with seniors, I feel that it will be important to look at models of their previous projects and roles within them. We will use their Digital Portfolios (which highlight their best work) to review the work they completed in prior classes and examine them against what Adria Steinberg of Jobs for the Future has called the Six As of ProjectBased Learning (Steinberg, 1997)[Figure 1-4]. In this way, we pull to the surface some of the practices they

1. Authenticity Does the project emanate from a problem that has meaning to the student? Is it a problem or question that might actually be tackled by an adult at work or in the community? Do students create or produce something that has personal and/or social value, beyond the school setting? 2. Academic rigor Does the project lead students to acquire and apply knowledge central to one or more discipline or content areas? Does it challenge students to use methods of inquiry central to one or more disciplines? (e.g., to think like a scientist) Do students develop higher order thinking skills and habits of mind? (e.g., searching for evidence, taking different perspectives)? 3. Applied Learning Does the learning take place in the context of a semi-structured problem, grounded in life and work in the world beyond school? Does the project lead students to acquire and use competencies expected in high performance work organizations (e.g., teamwork, appropriate use of technology, problem solving and communication)? Does the work require students to develop organizational and self-management skills? 4. Active Exploration Do students spend significant amounts of time doing field-based work? Does the project require students to engage in real investigations, using a variety of methods, media, and sources? Are students expected to communicate what they are learning through presentation and/or performance? 5. Adult Relationships Do students meet and observe adults with relevant expertise and experience? Do students have an opportunity to work closely with at least one adult? Do adults collaborate on the design and assessment of student work? 6. Assessment Do students reflect regularly on their learning using clear project criteria that they have helped to set? Do adults from outside the classroom help students develop a sense of real world standards for this type of work? Will there be opportunities for regular assessment of student work through a range of methods, including exhibitions and portfolios?

have engaged in over the years with a sort of rubric to guide us as we determine the kind of project we wish to construct. Rather than inhibiting the construct of the project, I aim to create an atmosphere where there are fewer hidden aspects of what students will practice in the classroom, as Brodhagen asserts is an important part of creating trust in our classroom (Brodhagen, p. 89). Reviewing the following Six As and evaluating their previous work against these should help act to ground and guide our thinking and to help us think about the kind of fabulous real-world exhibitions of learning that can occur.

How to Ask Questions

Asking question seems easy enough, but it is important for students to consider the kinds of questions they are posing... Determining an essential question for a project is challenging. In Alec Pattons Work That Matters, he discusses how it can be a challenge for teachers to tune their own as they revise their own projects. He insists, however, that the essential question should do these things:

It should be a question that people ask in the real world. It should be a question that has no easy answer, and stretches students intellectual muscles. It should be a question that ignites students imaginations.
(Work That Matters, 2012, p. 38) Using Steinbergs Six As as our guide, we can now work to develop questions about what we want to learn, we can consider the kind of questions that will help guide us toward the kind of learning that we are after.

What Do We Choose to Learn? How Will We Learn It?

Barbara Brodhagen, a middle-school teacher, wrote of how she began her journey into the negotiated curriculum with the establishment of a classroom constitution in The Situation Made

Why co-design with 12th-graders?

Beane and Brodhagen engaged in this practice of co-designing with middle-schoolers. Surely an angsty seventeen-year-old would be a better sell, right? This is not always the case, claims educational pundit, Alfie Kohn. In fact, students themselves might provide the greatest resistance. If, after a number of years, theyve come to know the game of school as one in which the teacher makes the rules, student resistance may crop up in one of three forms: refusing, testing, or parroting (Kohn, 1993). The latter is particularly tricky. Kohn suggests that after years of being delivered ideas, students who are provided with choice might opt for something that rings a familiar bell. For instance, a student presented with choice may present an idea that mirrors something she has experienced in another class: We could write a five-paragraph essay about democracy and then make a power point presentation? Kohn argues that this question poses an opportunity for democratic intervention. The teacher can then ask students to discuss when and why they have made decisions that have catered to adults pleasures, rather than to suggest something new and potentially outrageous. She must also make is clear that the primary objective in soliciting their opinion is to do just that: to look for students who take risks and make decisions. If the student refuses to participate in the decision-making process, claiming that it is teachers job to decide (Kohn, 1993), it can open the avenue for a discussion about what kind of learning actually excites them: controlled and teacher-driven or... otherwise. Furthermore, these twelfth-grade students are often of the age (or approaching) to vote. If our democratic society is to flourish, our youngest members must believe that their voice matters. If they do not have the opportunity to exercise this while in school, it is a large leap from doer to democratic activist. Kohn cites Shelley Berman of the Educators for Social Responsibility who

noted, We teach reading, writing, and math by [having students do them], but we teach democracy by lecture (as cited in Kohn, 1993). She smartly calls into question the fuzzy link between a passive education and an active, democratic citizen. The preparation for the legal right to participate must be in the very place that teaches about democracy. Kohn claims that, The only way this can happen, the way children can acquire both the skills of decision making and the inclination to use them, is if we maximize their experiences with choice and negotiation (Kohn, 1993) For those students closest to becoming adults, and thus invited to participate in adult decisions, it is imperative that the adults in their lives engage them in this practice.

Step One:

Students are asked to brainstorm lists of questions that they have about themselves. This is done individually, and often students are given time to think about this before requested to record their answer. Beane offers a selective sample of questions that often arise:

Step Two: Step Three:

How long will I live? What will I look like when I am older? Should I get a tattoo? Will I be like my parents? How do I know if I am really in love? How do my bodily organs keep going and going? Why am I so short? Will I be successful and happy?

Students are then asked to form small groups of five or six and asked to compare questions, looking specifically for when they have common or shared questions. Next, students return to their individual work and are encouraged to think about the world around them...from the close parts(family, friends, school, cultures, our community, and so one) to the more distant parts (your state, your nation, the global world). Brodhagen encourages students to think about that worldboth near and farand list questions are concerns that you have about that world. What questions do you have about the world you live in? (Beane, 2005, p. 25) These questions have included:

How do you know something is real? Again, students shift into small groups and note similar questions. Step Four: Next, students are invited to note the connections between the self and world questions. Brodhagen and her students use the connections to consider themes to study before the year, such as conflict, environment, or mind bogglers (Brodhagen,1995, p.8 9) Before contracting themselves to these themes, however, students and teachers consider the kinds of activities that would aid students in understanding these themes. According the Brodhagen, this allows for students to begin to accommodate individual learning styles, what a person likes to do or is good at, while also considering the skills each needs to develop. (p. 89) these themes. The teachers expand upon this, developing calendars and beginning to organize and expand upon the ideas that will guide their year (Beane, 2005, p. 27).

Why are there so many crimes? Why do people hate each other? Why are there so many poor people? Who will win the next election? Why is there so much prejudice?

Step Five:

Step Six:

Figure 1.5 Beane and Brodhagens Approach to a Negotiated Curriculum

However, twelfth-graders embedded in the project-based-learning experience for several years might have a thing or two to offer in the way of how a project should roll out. They often have up to three years of experience at the high school level, and many have engaged in this form of learning in their middle school years. Thats over six years of project-doing. It does seem that they are ready to engage in a discussion of the qualities of a strong project. They are also ready to take the next step and co-design with their teachers. They have the experience of doing. Now, they must untangle the knotty projects they engaged in and figure out just how that project worked. In our class, we will tap into their prior experiences to assemble the skeleton of our own project. Once we have that figured out, we must next decide how we will flesh it out. What kind of nutrients does skeleton of a project need to add some meat to it? This will be the fun, the challenging, and yet the richest part. According to Steven Wolk, this collaboration between teacher and students that calls upon their prior experiences, points out the skeletal, yet familiar frame of a project, now calls upon them to express their hopes in a democratic fashion: Minds come together, goals are talked about, hopes and dreams are expressed, personal interests are elaborated upon, skepticism is raised, question are asked, opinions and perspectives offered. This is inquiry and discourse as a way of life. It is a way of saying to children, both verbally and tacitly, that personal growth is necessarily a personal, social, and communal creation, and that we trust them, and expect them, to take a critical role in making that creation happen (Wolk, 1998, p. 78). Twelfth-graders are ready for this. We just have to trust that we can work out our ideas. Together. For those who worry that this kind of engagement will be recalled in the first years of lecture-based college instruction, Kohn highlights the Eight-Year Study in which students from democratic schools were studied alongside those in traditional schools. The students who were most successful tended to come from the schools that had departed most significantly from the conventional college-prep approachthe approach currently lauded by those calling for higher standards, more accountability, and getting back to the basics (Kohn, 1993).

Co-designing is the next step for senior students who are well-versed in the routines and practices of their own school. If we wish to scaffold their experience with the eighteen-year-old, adult, democratic world, we must begin this practice in high school, with a gentle release that culminates in the senior year. Students itch with the plague of senioritis because they are ready to shed the older practice of learning they know so well. Instead of dragging their feet across the finish line, why dont we let them tap dance through their senior year? Put all their moves together and make some noise? If students engage in the act of co-designing their learning experiences with their teachers and mentors, the teenage risk-taking brain might propose an idea that the logical adult brain would never have proposed. Yet, the logical adult brain has the experience, the practice, the ever-so-important frontal lobe that the teenage brain needs to develop and refine their ideas into actionable plans. The twelfth-grade student is invigorated and engaged in the democratic process: his idea was heard. Yes, it may need some fine-tuning. But, it came from him. He owns it, though he may share it and work with his colleagues to develop. This is the kind of engagement that will prepare our students to engage in the kind of deep learning and democratic practice critical to our young adults. This doesnt mean that the educators work gets any easier. It means that she, too, must share the experience with her student. Mark Moorhouse, of Matthew Moss High School, contends that sharing the

power with students is not being a lazy teacher, but becoming a different kind of teacher, one who provides students with opportunities to stretch themselves and build their dignity, confidence and agency as learners (Moorhouse, 2012, p. 24). The process of co-design does not promise ease, but it shouldif done well engage our older students in a sense of ownership of their learning and allow them to view their final year in high school as one that gradually releases them into the adult worldwith an internal survival guide.