For the rest of their life, the students of the Madera Method projects will remember that very special set of activities that taught them teamwork, sleuthing, tenacity, research skills, writing, publishing, and being a part of something much bigger than themselves, while still being able to take individual pride in a unique published document for which their work was invaluable.
“When we first started doing the project we had to be motivated, and Mr. Coate did that. We never thought we could write a book, but each new document got us more and more excited. I know now I am capable of writing, and we’ll always remember that we wrote a book together as a class.”
This kind of learning allows the students to build lifelong skills and confidence in themselves, and teaches them that they can do anything, including writing and publishing a book: a dedicated activity none of them ever thought possible until they did it, at the end of a long, sometimes tedious, but always engaging research project.
Through the process, the teacher is there to guide them, without interfering with their research. The students learn by doing and follow their chosen trail of crumbs, all the way to the information they seek to obtain, so they can complete their research.
“The Madera Method project was a lot better than the traditional method of reading a chapter and answering questions. It kept us going and kept our interest focused solely on the book, and you learn something new every day.”
“It was the most amazing and impactful experience of my life! The way we dove into history to write this book was absolutely amazing! Writing this book was the best thing I could have ever done at such a young age. Mr. Coate, you have been and will always be the teacher to impact my life; that experience was amazing!!”
The connection to their community is another beneficial aspect for the students of the Madera Method projects: the students unearth meaningful information, about forgotten past leaders or personalities from their hometown, which they unveil and reveal.
The Madera Method books are tangible results that are also meaningful to the rest of the community, as they contribute to the local history, substantiate or rectify local lore, while teasing the curiosity in all of us as the local consumers of the final publications: stories to which we can all relate, even if just by geographic commonality; stories that are written and published by the youth of our town.
“Though it has been 33 years since I had the pleasure of writing “The California 100” with Mr. Coate, I can still remember the experience vividly. Mr. Coate didn’t just engage us with history – he immersed us in the formative events that shaped our nation and world. He taught us to be inquisitive and how to operate like professional historians and writers. There is no substitute for that kind of constructivist learning, and it was a project and a learning experience that changed my life forever as a future educator myself.”
David Childers, California 100, 1989 Thomas Jefferson 8th grade Honors English (Mrs. Lakeman)
“When I was given the opportunity to design my own high school, it was an easy decision to make Project Based Learning the centerpiece of the curriculum. And – two years later – I had the pleasure of hiring the individual that first made me a participant – and believer – in the power of PBL. Having written a book with Mr. Coate as an 8th grader, I was incredibly excited to have my high school students receive the same high-quality experience. As always – Mr. Coate delivered. The students were highly engaged and enthusiastic, and the final product was remarkable. It was one of the highlights of my time creating and leading ACEL-Fresno Charter High School.”
David Childers, Memories of the Rebel Clerk of Fresno County, 2011 ACEL-Fresno Charter High School Principal