Category Archives: education

Project Based Learning with The Order of the Trees

I’m excited to share something I’ve wanted to make for a long time. As a former teacher, and current professional development coordinator, I spend a lot of time researching and planning project based learning experiences with teachers. I wanted to create something that could be used as a guide for a project based learning unit based on my middle grade novel, The Order of the Trees, published by Green Writers Press in 2015. 

This website is a working draft of those plans. It can be used while reading the book with students either aloud or in small groups, or it can be used after the book has been read as a culminating, immersive, integrated project.

It is my hope that I can add a student work page to the sites and feature student projects. Please share any work, feedback on the plans, questions or ideas with me! We are in this together. Also, I would be happy to Skype into your classroom to discuss projects with students, or answer their emails.

I hope you find this useful! Weebly is an easy website builder that teachers and students can use to create media rich, beautiful sites pretty quickly. I think that each project having an online home like this could provide a bridge to at home learning and a great way for families to stay connected to project work.  Google sites are also a good tool for this. Often, it helps teachers and students to have an online home for projects. Teachers can easily share curated links and resources this way.

Please let me know if you have any questions, ideas for this unit, or any thoughts about this tool.

“Love is like a tree, it grows of its own accord, it puts down deep roots into our whole being.”
— Victor Hugo

 

Begin with Bravery, Meaningful Work and Self Care

This weekend teachers and students are anxious. The new school year for many begins Monday. Floating in teachers’ minds: What will the class be like? Will my colleagues, new parents,  and the administration be supportive?  Endless to-do lists float in mid air behind your eyelids as you try to fall asleep. The work is never ending, and the school year hangs in the air like a floating question mark.

Stop the barrage of thoughts. You are ready, and you know what to do. Please read this poem for teachers, and know:

The time for sacred work is here.
It matters. You matter.
We lift each other up.
Walk on, tribe.
Go, live love.
The world needs you.

We at the Tarrant Institute for Innovation  Education see the incredible work you do, and we want to celebrate it.  We’ve launched a campaign called #everydaycourage to showcase the ways you and your colleagues show up for students, each other, and our communities. We hope that you will share your photos, tweets, comments and ideas about your colleagues showing everyday courage (use the hashtag #everydaycourage so we can see them!). Here are a few moments of #everydaycourage I have been inspired by in recent days.

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Start the School Year: Real and Relevant with Service and Project Based Learning

It’s almost time. Teachers are starting to have cold sweats and stress dreams, but also that seed of excitement and looking forward to seeing their students again. The new school year is upon us.

With everything happening in the world– it is clear to me that the path forward in education is to engage kids in meaningful, relevant, connected work that improves the community and  world, while growing empathy and self-efficacy in kids.

Research has told us that service learning has the capability to disrupt bias and fight stereotypes. We need this now more than ever. We can use project and service based learning as a tool to improve communities, school culture, and empower students to see other perspectives while helping to solve real problems.

I am heartened by all the progress in this regard. Schools across the country to moving toward personalizing learning for students, using tools such as service and project based learning across the curriculum.

In this spirit, I am launching Start the School Year #realandrelevant. My latest book, Real and Relevant: a guide for service and project-based learning,  came out in June, 2017, and is a guide for busy teachers who want to begin or deepen service and project based learning in their classrooms. It is the second edition of this book, and the new edition adds chapters on technology tools; a summary of my research on how service learning at the middle school level can contribute to personal growth; project based learning; and more examples from the field, including updated resources and examples.

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