Course 5 Final Project: What Do You Do With A Problem?

what-do-you-do-with-a-problem2Recently, I shared some reflections about Limitations I’ve faced in trying to integrate project-based learning into our Learning Commons curriculum.  This is something I’ve continued to reflect on and discuss with our ES Principal.  Our AISR school mission is to “educate and inspire our students to be responsible, productive and ethical global citizens with the skills and passion to think creatively, reason critically, communicate effectively, and learn continuously.” We discussed how a shift to a project-based program in the Learning Commons could benefit our students and help us to fulfill our school mission. For my final project, I have designed a unit that I hope will be the beginning of this shift to a project-based program during our Learning Commons specials.  I am very excited to implement this when we return from Winter Break!  I plan to kick off the unit with Kobi Yamada’s amazing book, What Do You Do With a Problem, which will help students to consider the power that is within them to contribute positive solutions and innovate new ideas to improve our world.

Inspiring Examples
As I looked at possible resources for the unit, I found some YouTube videos that I think will be perfect for helping students to recognize how meaningful and powerful it can be to seek out solutions and act to make a difference.  As part of our introduction to project-based learning, I plan to share this inspiring video about William Kamkwamba, a 14-year old boy from Malawi who taught himself how to build a windmill based on a picture in a library book.  I think it will help students to recognize that we all have the ability to self-learn and contribute to the world, if only we will have the grit and determination to succeed, despite any obstacles.

Unit Plan:
Here is my unit plan!  While my time with the students each week is short, I hope that they will develop a passion for their projects which will motivate them to work on them even when we aren’t in class together.  I will probably tweak the plan as we get going with the unit, but for now, I feel like it’s a good start as we embark on a PBL journey!

  1. Why do I this unit is a good possibility for my Course 5 project?
    I feel that it’s the perfect way for us to begin our journey towards a project-based program in the Learning Commons.
  2. What are some of my concerns about redesigning this unit?
    Time is always our greatest issue.  I only see my students once in a 6-day rotation, so I will have to really work to keep them motivated and inspired as they work on their projects over a long period of time.
  3. What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from me?
    This shift to PBL will require me to let go of some of our more traditional library units and place more control in the hands of the students.  But I think that will be a positive shift.  I will need to learn how monitor each of their projects effectively and provide guidance as needed.
  4. What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from my students?
    This unit will require students to develop strong organizational skills, the ability to think and reason critically about an issue, and to synthesize and summarize information so that it can be shared and presented effectively.

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4 Responses to Course 5 Final Project: What Do You Do With A Problem?

  1. Wow Laurie – I can not wait for this project to start! Reading through your post, your plans and the though process behind this final decision for a project has for one, made me want to attend all your lessons! I really like the way you have linked the project to our school’s mission, yet trying to ensure the learning will be authentic and meaningful. I know from our discussions, and previous blog posts, project based learning is something that is really taking off in the realm of the library which is both exciting, and indeed daunting. I found this great post on a where they used the book ‘The One and Only Ivan’to complete a Global Project Based Learning Project. You may enjoy the read and find some useful organisational ideas/tips for embedding tech into your own project. Likewise if you are looking for another inspiring to share with your students, check out the link to is a 12 year old boy from the Kenyan Maasai community who shares his solar-powered solution designed to safely scare the lions away. It would be a great one to use our much loved app Padlet for students to reflect on. Looking forward to seeing this project in action Laurie!

    • Laurie says:

      Hi Cheryl,
      Thanks for your reply and feedback on my project plans! I really appreciate the resources you’ve shared, as I’ve been looking for more inspiration to share with the students! With battle of the books coming up, I plan to spend some time discussing the social issues in each book that might be possible big topics for their projects. Ivan will be one of our books for the Battle, so the project you shared is really helpful!

  2. Isn’t it fun to be inspired and then share that inspiration with kids? You have collected some tremendous resources that I think will engage students. You addressed one of your challenges, a limited amount of time with students. Is it possible to collaborate? Perhaps with writing? Just thinking that if there was another avenue to tie it in students might have more buy in. Once the momentum gets going I think they will continue at home, but the first task is to get them fired up.

    • Laurie says:

      Hi Kristi. Thanks for your comment and suggestions! I agree that collaboration would help create more buy-in for the students. Many of our teachers provide Genius Hour time during the week, so my plan is to encourage students to make the most of that genius hour time to continue their projects. I will communicate with teachers to let them know what projects their students are working on so that they can provide support as well. I am excited to get started on this, and I hope the students really will get fired up about the possibilities. We’ve been finishing up The BFG for Global Read Aloud, and it’s a perfect connection to lead us into our projects. We’ve been discussing how Sophie and the BFG helped to solve a Global Issue by having the courage to come up with a plan and put it into action. They agreed that if they see a problem, they should do something about it. Soon, they will have the opportunity to do just that! 🙂


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