Post by Sean, Classroom 2.0 participant.
Last summer during the EdLab workshop, I was inspired to create a mission based on the lesser-known Civil War monuments of Washington, DC (General Winifred Scott, for example). I received a set of 12 trading cards from the National Parks Service that I laminated and planned on allowing my students choose a card and present information about their assigned memorial during our Civil War unit. Once I realized that the pace of the curriculum meant that we weren't going to be covering the Civil War in class, I slightly modified the mission to reflect Revolutionary-era figures rather than the Civil War.
The mission: Why are monuments and memorials built after revolutionary-era figures in Washington, DC?
My eighth-grade students were divided into groups of two, provided with a list of questions they needed to answer, and given one of three rubrics for this mission: one for a digital presentation (prezi, powerpoint, wix, etc.); one for a video presentation (iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, etc); and one "create your own" where students were given a list of other resources they could use (comic creator, blabberize, etc.) to present their information.
Usually I allow students two weeks to complete and present their projects, but since this was my first attempt at mission-based learning, and the students needed time to become acquainted with new software, I gave them three. Halfway through, they were to check in and discuss how their progress was going, what difficulties they were having, and how either I or other students could assist.
When the day came where students were expected to present, I ran into two problems: the first, more obvious one, is that some students didn't complete the mission at all. This was due to issues ranging from a lack of transportation to assigned areas, to technological incapabilities, to simple laziness. The second problem, which was less expected, was that students who chose to create websites didn't have the visually stunning pages I envisioned. To combat this issue for next year, I would dedicate an entire day to physically inspecting their progress rather than having student-centered discussions about it.
In spite of these minor issues, the students who completed the mission showed the creativity that is often lacking in schools. They had fun with the assignment, were engaged in their own learning and the process, and, they got to show off their skill (and, very often, humor) to the class. It was a fantastic experience for me and an even better one for my students. I have included the video above that gives a great example of two girls using the Adams Building of the Library of Congress to give a brief report on President John Adams.