Several weeks ago a second grade class indicated that they wanted to all work together, with the exception of a few students in the class, to create a Round Church from No End building materials. Given my experience with larger group projects I was hesitant. We talked about my concerns at a class meeting, but they all assured me that they wanted to try it.
Students spent a class period working together with this common goal. They talked, they disagreed,they built, they tore down and started over, they walked away in frustration only to be brought back by a classmate needing their help. It was GREAT! And it was not something I would have planned for the class. The students energy, enthusiasm and spirit allowed them to work together in this large group. They had a common goal, not a common vision, and this drove them to compromise and collaborate. I am not sure that I would create a whole class project unless students had this sort of 'buy in', but I now realize that I need to continue to listen carefully to student ideas and let them try things even when my initial reaction includes concerns about the outcome! I think it is in these moments that succeed or fail, we are learning---with choice and passion!