It was somewhere in my sophomore year and the teacher was bubbling over with excitement. "We're going on a Pencil Quest!" he exlaimed.
I raise my hand. "So, you will take us to various sites. Is it like a field trip?"
"Yep," he says. "And each site will have a page that you will read. When you read the page, you'll answer questions."
"Like a textbook?" I ask.
"More like a moving textbook," he says, "with tons of pages. Imagine that!"
"I thought it was a quest," a student says.
"And the conflict driving the quest is?" I ask.
"Um . . . I don't know. Finishing it, I think. But it's an adventure."
I nod my head, "Got it. Like a Scavenger Hunt. Do we solve riddles to find new places?"
"Not exactly. You have a map."
"So, I can choose my own route."
"No, the route is determined ahead of time."
The crazy part? We ran from site to site with exuberance. We were happy to be using our pencils, even if the pencil still wasn't all that social. We loved the notion of multiple pages. I look back now at the Pencil Quests and I'm a little embarrassed by it. Yet, those were the pioneers. Those were the ones doing something different.
And here's the thing: my students are excited about our projects and our problem-based learning. They're excited about plogs and pen pal networks. It has me wondering what they'll look back at and consider to be quaint.