Recently, 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.
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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.