Turning passion projects into real world change

Public displays of learning are not always the end.

How do you know when meaningful, relevant, personalized and authentic learning has really occurred? Is the charge and scaffolding strong enough to continue the learning after the in-school time has expired?

One measure is looking at what happens after the project ends.

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“Who are we as West Rutland?”

Community exploration builds connection

community-based learning the humans of burkeWhat happens when you ask your students what they want to learn about and how they like to learn, then you turn them loose on a three-day self-directed series of projects generated from their ideas? Teachers at West Rutland School recently found out.

(Spoiler alert: it’s harder, fun, and more engaging than regular school days!)

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Students design digital badges

Badging growth toward goals’ attainment

digital badges as evidence of flexible pathwaysA small group of these 6th grades at Peoples Academy wondered how they could help their peers be more engaged in the school’s Opportunity Time, time devoted to goal-setting and exploring student interests, so they took on the challenge of designing a digital badging system to incentive their peers.

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How to make a mini-documentary

Getting from footage to finished

videos to showcase content area learningYou’ve captured video of ALL THE THINGS.

You’ve diligently trained your device on the action as some truly amazing work has gone down in your school. You’re excited to have a video you can share with families, with the school board and add to your PLP portfolio.

So… now what?

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One mural, multiple legacies

Beyond the Passion Project

@ThisIsVTEDClara wanted to do something amazing for her final Brainado project. She wanted to push herself and leave a “remembrance,” as she called it, commemorating the sustainability program at her middle school. She envisioned painting a mural on the newly constructed, pristine greenhouse. She only had one small problem: “I have no artistic ability.”

But she went for it. She found a partner, a community mentor, and unexpected help. She made mistakes and fixed them. And she worked far beyond the project period, up until the last week of school. The mural is amazing to look at but has impact far beyond the visual. Clara thought she was painting her legacy but she was also expressing the legacy of the educators who cared for her.

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Reflecting on your PBL

How did it go?

take project-based learning to the next levelIt can be easy to end your project-based learning experiences with students in a big heap of exhaustion and miss the opportunity to reflect on the experience. There is so much to learn and gain from gathering your (and your students’) reflections.

But how do you do that? Let’s look at some ways.

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Students blogging for an authentic audience

Getting connected: online & with community members

student-led short story unitWhat if there was a way to spend less time grading your students’ writing, while also providing a valuable writing experience for them?

What if there was a way to bring interested, wise community members into your classroom on a regular basis?  I think I discovered a way: student blogs with readers from the local community.

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Battle Physics at Green Mountain Union High School

Come for the math, stay for the slingshots!

practice for proficiencyGreen Mountain 7th graders and HS physics students apply math and science to a real-world problem: hitting targets.  They collaborate in multi-age teams to design and build projectile launchers.  Then they calculate trajectories and calibrate their creations before taking aim.

Each spring the students take over the Green Mountain Union High School cafeteria to stage an epic competition: Battle Physics. The tournament is a test of their skills: designing, building, computing, and calibrating. The winning team will have to do all of these things well to hit the most targets.

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A student-led short story unit at Crossett Brook

7th and 8th graders take the initiative to share their stories with the world.

student-led short story unitMs. Cicchetti’s 7th and 8th grade language arts classes at Crossett Brook Middle School have been writing short stories for the last few weeks. Their writing experience has been a student-driven one and has been “Very enjoyable!” says Harper Haase, a 7th grader in Ms. Cicchetti’s class.

Everyone was very happy with getting to pick their own topic, do their own editing and revising, and not having teachers “guide” them along and take control.

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4 ways to jazz up a school exhibition

Going beyond the gallery walk

community based learningExhibition season is upon us!

And as you’re making ready to throw open the doors of your school and welcome in the community, let’s look at a handful of ways to jazz up any school event: by planning your capturing in advance, making interactive takeaways, going off-campus(!) or setting up a digital guestbook.

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