Proctor’s STEAM Family Night
The sleepy little town of Proctor VT, is making some big waves when it comes to showcasing their students’ STEAM achievements. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) is a hot topic in school innovation right now, and rural towns like Proctor are primed and ready to show their communities just why STEAM matters so much to students.
3 ways to plan for PBL 2.0
You’ve dipped your toe into project based learning. You’ve planned an entry event, shared a high quality driving question, managed student teamwork, created scaffolds, and helped students finish a meaningful project to present to an authentic, engaged audience!
Whew! Well done.
But we know you. We know you’re a total rockstar and you and your students are already looking ahead to your next PBL cycle. So many problems to solve! So many ideas to toss around, and so much excitement from the feedback your community gave students on their work.
While your next PBL idea’s a-percolatin’, take time to reflect on these three key areas, and take project-based learning to the next level.
How do project-based learning and makerspaces fit together?
Making and PBL may look like two completely different educational movements, but in reality they work well together and each strengthens the other.
That’s because they share a common fundamental underpinning: they honor students’ innate curiosity about the world.
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.