I know there are many great answers to the question, “what would you bring with you if you were stranded on a desert island?” Let me tell you why I’m bringing duct tape.
That's exactly what I asked myself when I was asked to start my student teaching at a project-based learning school. Project-based learning (or PBL for short) is a method of teaching that allows for multiple access points for diverse student learners. It's pretty much that simple. Depending on the school or method of instructional practice, PBL comes in all shapes and sizes. I'm going to share my version of project-based learning with you.
Through the project launch, students become initially engaged in the overall problem or question being addressed by the project and then work in collaborative teams to design and iterate solutions through feedback and refinement. The focus for project-based learning is on skill mastery through deep dives instead of broad content coverage. In true project-based learning environments, students are thirsty for more information and will even ask the teacher to provide more information in order to complete a task. This can be an authentic inquiry moment or pre-planned by Jedi mind tricking kids into asking you to teach them content.
The power of speech is amazing. Someone else's words can uplift you or give you the motivation to make a difference. For me, I was inspired by a TED Talk at an educational conference. The first words from the speaker told the truth about our produce in our grocery stores. He said, “Did you know that the average apple at the grocery store is anywhere from 6-14 months old from the time it was picked off a tree.” At that moment, I was hooked. I kept listening and I couldn’t believe the engrossing facts about our food. In fact, I didn’t want to believe it and so I did my research. Sure enough, the presenter was right.
It’s hard to imagine in the 21st century that there are young women in the United States who don’t know that girls can become scientists. That was my belief, anyway. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to women who taught science classes, women who had professions in the medical field, and women who were experts in their field guiding me through my undergraduate research experiences. There was no doubt to me that a woman could become a scientist. Challenging? Sure. Unique? Sometimes. But I never considered that there were young girls in the world who had no idea that women could become scientists.
With over a decade of experience as an educator, I want to share some of the best practices that I've discovered for bringing the real world into the classroom.