Creating a Culture for Project Based Learning (PBL)

cardboard-4First posted at TIIE

I bet you have big dreams of creative, innovative projects and engaged students in your classroom. Students who are busy researching, collaborating, creating, and solving authentic problems they are interested in.

But this doesn’t happen without a strong community of learners.

Why build a strong classroom community?

Project-based learning, or PBL, is a wonderful way to engage students in their own learning. But if the community is not ready to feel safe, take risks, and be supportive it can fall flat. Here are some ways to build a strong, supportive and inclusive community that is ready to engage and be inspired by PBL.

Team building activities

During the planning for the first few weeks of school, it is so important to build trust, community and shared experiences. One way to do this is to schedule regular team-building activities. These are a fun break from hearing about expectations and instead doing get-to-know you activities because they are often physical and challenge different learning styles. See the link for ideas and grab a few that fit your schedule.

 

Ownership of the space

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On Camping with family: the gift of no mirrors

Conceptual image of a woman's face in rippled water

First posted at Parent.Co

I stumble into a hotel, laden with my bags, my kids’ stuffed animals, eager to go to sleep.

After driving cross country, camping for several weeks, then starting back across the country, I’m excited for clean sheets, a flush toilet, and a fluffy pillow.  Simple, lovely things we take for granted. I’m ready to dive in the cozy heap and call it a night.

First I walk into the bright, sterile bathroom. A wide mirror stretches across the wall. It’s huge. I look up, and think, “Oh, that is what I look like?” and immediately think next, “Damn, I need some sleep, a haircut, etc. etc.” quickly followed by, “I’m looking old.”

But wait. You see, I hadn’t thought any of that a minute ago. In fact, I hadn’t looked in a mirror for weeks. The only time I did was when I’d tilt the rear view mirror my direction and take out my contacts before crawling into the tent. My thoughts were filled with camping dinners, day time hikes, my daughters, the magnificent wildlife and scenery, and what I was reading, not anything related to my appearance.

Like most campers, I wore only what made me warm and comfortable. Tevas with wool socks. My hooded sweatshirt with the hood up. I had no care about any of it – only that I wanted to stay warm and dry (which is no easy task in Yellowstone’s weather-finicky Lamar valley). I didn’t change clothes for days, except at night into my “non bear-y” clothes so the grizzlies didn’t come visit our tent. We took a handful of showers over the course of 3 weeks. I didn’t really miss them. Continue reading

Teacher Summer Reading: Learn Like Pirate

(First published at the Tarrant Center for Innovative Education blog)

Something about this book title and summer reading fits perfectly. The open ocean, pirates, and fierce independence. I’m hoping you have a bit of time to settle into some reading for fun and some that inspires you in the classroom to have students take on more leadership and develop their own independence.

You know when you pick up a book and it just clicks? Learn Like a Pirate, by Paul Solarz is just that kind of book. As a teacher I have been trying to develop ways for students to take more leadership and ownership in the classroom (and beyond). Paul Solarz takes this to a new level– and I wish I had this book years ago. It is, in short, a guidebook for how to give your students voice, choice, leadership and independence in the classroom. The book gives very doable ways for students to take the lead in their own educations– to create classroom environments can foster community, life-long, engaged learning.

learn like a piriate

Cliff Notes Version:

(aka transformative practices outlined in the book)

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