Last week my students completed and presented the yearlong achievement of their Waldorf 8th grade project and I couldn’t be more proud of them.
This Waldorf tradition is one of my absolute favorite things. My former students and my own children look back on their projects with tremendous pride and enthusiasm. My daughter has said that her project is one of the things that made her glad she was a Waldorf student.
Where else do students get to study a topic of their choosing for a full year?
Though there is usually a lot of enthusiasm and interest in the 8th grade project topics, there is also a lot of work that goes into the completion of the project. Different schools structure the projects differently, but the following were the components of our 8th grade projects.
- A mentor relationship
- A research paper
- A presentation display
- A physical project (usually)
- A speech delivered to the school community
Many of my students were intimidated by the idea of giving a speech to the larger community, but in the end some of them shared that it was their favorite part. They found that when they are passionate about something, it is just so easy to talk about!
Some students shared that they have been thinking about their 8th grade topic idea from the time they were in 1st grade. Others ended up choosing a topic that they knew nothing about before they started.
Some students used the project as a chance to deepen their connection with a familiar favorite topic.
Others used it as a chance to connect with friends and family who shared enthusiasm for the topic and wanted to support and foster an ambitious idea.
Some wanted to give back to the community.
And some students learned more about themselves and shared what they learned with all of us.
There were many more projects and they were all completely fascinating and inspiring in their own unique ways. I couldn’t be more pleased with the effort, energy and heart these kids put into their projects. As I listened to them deliver their speeches at the community evening I felt so grateful to be able to spend my days with this incredible bunch of diverse students.
Lucky teacher. Lucky students.
Are you thinking about leading your students through a yearlong project? I’ve learned a few things (and my students have been kind enough to share their experiences and feedback) and I’m putting together a guide specifically about how to lead the 8th grade project. Keep your eye on this space.