Students test drive tools to enhance & amplify project work
When Stowe Middle Level educators met to plan for the upcoming student exhibitions of learning, they agreed on two critical ideas. One, that their learners benefit from multiple ways to tell the story of their learning.
And two, students are in the best position to test out tech tools to share that learning.
A new recipe for Personalized Learning Plans
Rather than trying to get students to care about existing PLPs, some schools are revamping their PLP process to start with what students care about. They are asking students to pursue their passions by crafting projects based on their personal interests and deepest curiosities.
The new recipe that is emerging: start with a cool personalized project and then build the PLP around it.
Answer Garden, Flipgrid and Adobe Spark
“What are you grateful for?” We posed this question to 7th grade Stowe Middle School students, the Monday before the holiday break.
The activity may seem simple, but it allowed us to introduce the students to three easy tech tools: Answer Garden, Flipgrid and Adobe Spark. Stowe students will use these tools to reflect and to collect evidence for their PLPs.
One way to make sure PLPs are student-driven: hand them the keys
At the end of last school year, the PLP Student Leadership Team at Crossett Brook Middle School presented to staff their recommendations for the future of PLPs at the school. And the staff unanimously supported all of the recommendations.
But it’s one thing to come up with a bunch of great ideas. It’s another thing to make sure they happen. For this group of students, follow through was not a problem. They met during the summer to keep the momentum going, convened daily during the first few weeks of school, then rolled out the new PLP process to their peers.
When last we left the students of these two plucky Vermont middle schools, they had managed to connect students and educators via Google Hangout. They’d gotten together to make pizzas and plot the future of personalized learning plans (PLPs). And they’d paired up students as PLP peer collaborators and spent some time reviewing PLPs in pairs.
So we wanted to ask: what’s next? How’s this peer PLP collaboration thing going?
Guiding Crossett Brook PLPs with student voice
The Crossett Brook PLP student leadership group presented their recommendations on PLPs to the teaching staff at the end of the school year. The educators received the students’ ideas well. It was pretty cool to see a roomful of teachers rapt on a hot afternoon during the last week of school.
And the students knocked it out of the park.
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.
Let students help you transform your school
Creating sustainable systemic change is hard work. Yet there are readily available, free, renewable resources right in your classroom. Students are embedded experts, creative geniuses, ruthless truthtellers, and intrinsic futurists.
Here are four examples of students as partners in school change: partners in building a makerspace, redesigning PLPs, serving the school community and negotiating curriculum.
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.
The middle school team at Rutland Town School in Rutland, VT have been working on a more fully integrated implementation of personal learning plans (PLPs) at their school.
They’re also passionate believers in student choice and learner-centered classrooms. Given some flexibility to change the school schedule, they came up with iLearn, a model of student self-direction and choice in tackling PLPs.