A student-centered approach to school discipline
Editor’s note: The students in Randolph Union’s PBL class have created a restorative justice system for their school. The students wrote this post as a way to share their story and encourage other schools to give restorative justice a try.
A lot of people are afraid to start implementing restorative justice in schools because of how intensive the work is. Although it certainly has been difficult to do it at Randolph Union High School (RUHS), we have found that it is well worth our efforts. Students have found that the working in setting up and running Restorative Justice has made subtle but important changes in their learning.
VR’s real world impact on students
Virtual reality is exciting and many of our students are already using this technology in gaming (as some were quick to tell me). So why aren’t we using it more in education?
Maybe we just need some ideas on how to use VR in education. So let’s start by looking at virtual reality in project-based learning (PBL).
What could possibly go wrong?
Remember when teaching was simply planning a lecture, shutting the door, and delivering it to students? This may have been easy for the teacher, but it certainly didn’t make for deep and relevant learning for the students. The work of developing project-based, engaging, and personalized learning is much more complex.
It’s also full of uncertainty. Let me tell you about a recent field trip I took with students.
Student exhibitions of project-based learning
At this point we all know how important it is for students to share project-based learning with an authentic audience. It shows students they have power in the world, and that their research really makes a difference. But how best to design an exhibition that empowers students and provides a compelling, informative experience for the community?
Cabot High School did it by hosting an evening that combined student TED Talks, interactive sound sculptures and a high school funk band.
It. Was. Glorious.
In this episode of our podcast, we take you to Cabot High School’s FLOW event, where you’ll hear what it was like to connect with their community around water conservation PBL.
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This is Real World PBL
Now we’ve been down the PBL highway, looking at PBL planning, entry events, supports for PBL, culminating events, and technology tools. It’s time to examine at what PBL looks like when educators stop being polite and start getting real: this is PBL in real classrooms.
Let’s start with Courtney Elliott’s fourth and fifth grade class at Proctor Elementary School in Proctor, Vermont. Elliott’s first PBL unit was designed to teach students how to do PBL, while also addressing Next Generation Science Standards. She tiered her approach to build responsibility in the project and to provide supports on the way.
Honor scholars with an authentic audience for their work
The culminating event! It’s the lovely finish line of a Project-Based learning unit. The big event. You’ve been planning for months for this event that celebrates the projects and the learning in an authentic, community based forum. All along, it’s been a strong motivator for scholars, grounding the relevant work they’ve been doing.
So. What does it look like to pull off a memorable and meaningful culminating event for project-based learning?
Signs along the way
Assessments can be hard to create and manage, but they are a necessary part of PBL. You can do it!
Assessments are often done with the elements of Understanding by Design : beginning with the end in mind.
Here are some ideas for how to use assessment — both formative and summative — to report to families, inform your practice, and improve student learning.
It’s where the learning is
It is easy to not plan time for reflection in project-based learning (PBL) because there is just so much DOING! The students are engaged, and it’s fun and hands-on, and everything moves pretty quickly. But for PBL to connect to learning targets and goals and transferable skills, frequent reflection needs to happen, and as we all know, this has to be deliberately built into the schedule.
So, what can this look like? Here are 8 methods for reflection in project-based learning.
Ways to support project-based learning
Some people have the mistaken idea that PBL is just when you point students in the direction of a project and say, “Go for it!”
If your students have a culture of doing project-based learning and are very independent, it makes sense to give them a lot of freedom — but that’s just not the case for many of our students.
If you have students who are younger, or need more support and structure here are some ideas and examples. It always makes sense to err on the side of having too many supports rather than too few.
You’ve done an engaging entry event. You have a plan for your PBL unit with a focused driving question. Sweet! Now it’s time for the students to embark on research. But the world of information is a vast wilderness fraught with danger: the danger of misinformation!
Before we can research, we need to brainstorm: What do kids want to do about the driving question and about the entry event? What do they want to see happen?