Project Based Learning – High Tech High

Project based learning (PBL), or performance assessment, is an authentic assessment and learning approach which allows students to actively explore real-world problems and challenges while acquiring a deeper knowledge. I believe PBL is a great assessment AS learning strategy which actively engages students in the learning process. When developing PBL, the Gailelo Educational Network provides and excellent rubric for such inquiry based projects.

High Tech High, provides excellent examples of PBL within classrooms, that use advanced technology and really focus on student centered classrooms. These schools really show the implementation of the New Story of Education in the Digital Age through not only the above characteristics, but they also involved inquiry based PBL, global connections and multiple literacies.

“This exhibit shows you what we love about ourselves. We are all unique and have different thoughts. In this exhibit, you will see photographs and writings. We want you to see that writing isn’t just a story, it is life. This project took a lot of hard work, and all photographs were taken by each of us. We learned to experiment, to try different vantage points. A picture is special, no matter how it turns out… Each picture, even if it’s not a picture of you, it still tells about you.”

One of the neat projects explored by a third grade classroom in Explorer Elementary involved integrating photography across curriculum’s with a project called “Through My Eyes“. There are several smaller activities within this one project which integrate multiple curriculum’s including: science, art, social studies, writing, and literacy. On the topic of literacy, 21st century literacies are embedded deep within this project.  When you read the caption to the left, for a group of previous third graders at Explorer Elementary, they talk about how they all have their own perspectives, both in how they think and in the photographs themselves. This is a great exemplar of media literacy, as the students recognize that each photograph portrays it’s own message based on the photographers personal constructs and stories.

Another great incorporation of literacies can be seen within the activity Picture Me, Picture You. Quoted exactly from the website: “This year-long cultural exchange promotes global understanding through photography and writing. Students from Explorer Elementary first learn about Africa, then share letters, poetry, and photography with children from the Tunahaki Foundation orphanage in Tanzania”.

Global and multicultural literacies are explicitly stated in the description as students aim to understand a different culture around the world, and how that culture creates knowledge and shares their perspective through their own photos. The photographs add a more creative and fun aspect to the idea of pen pals, so as students develop their writing skills they are also developing other skills associated with the literacies I have previously mentioned. This type of project could be developed to become more inquiry based through many ways (i.e. recognizing issues the Tanzanian children may face such as lack of access to clean water, or conduct an environmental experiment and compare the recycling or pollution in both countries, through photos and writing).

High Tech High provides a plethora of examples of different projects students have completed in a variety of grade levels, and is definitely a website I will continue to explore to find ideas for my own classroom. The inquiry based rubric from the Galileo Network, as mentioned before, is a great resource for teachers who are developing their own performance assessment for students, as it is clear and organized in a way that makes it easy to understand, even as a new teacher.

Check out other projects on High Tech High!


Quick Addition for RPAT:

As a future 21st century teacher I will be using High Tech High as a place to find new ideas for Project Based learning. There are so many different resources on the High Tech High website, I only chose a few to comment on above. But, while skimming through the other projects, there are clear connections to other literacies, as well as opportunities for integrating curriculum’s within one project. I believe using the website as well as the Inquiry based rubric from the Galileo Network, will allow my to strengthen my ability to create deep-learning and inquiry based tasks for my students.

Advertisements

Class Connections to Other Blogs

One of the blogs I am following includes Ms. Cassidy’s, whom professor Drake recommended. Those in the class who follow her have seen that the majority of her posts last month involved a girl named Emmy Barr, who has Williams syndrome and was starting her own caramel business. Through the few blogs posted by Ms. Cassidy, you can see the children actively supporting Emmy’s business through posters which encourage those around the school to vote for her (in the end Emmy did win second place!).

The classroom involvement in supporting Emmy was very strongly rooted in technology and media literacy. The students understood the importance of access to technology in order to vote for Emmy, and the variety of ways they could do this, including the iPads in their classroom as well using cellphones in the older classrooms. While Ms. Cassidy did not mention this in her blog, the students pitching Emmy’s business to the Moose Jaw radio station and also contacting global news are great ways to talk about how we use media to connect and communicate messages.

I also believe that a great way to continue student learning after Emmy’s project could involve some financial literacy. A project such as the Lesson discussed in the Crawford & West article where the classes were given the opportunity to create and plan their own businesses using real-world resources would be a great connection to Emmy, who started her own caramel business. Obviously, the project would have to be simplified for the students, but it would be a great introduction for them to understand how much money they (or Emmy) would need to start her own business, and all the costs Emmy must consider.

#whatisschool

I have been following a teacher online, his name is Mr. Kemp (Craig), he is a middle school teacher based out of New Zealand. Craig is also the founder of the online education twitter chat #whatisschool. He defines the space as a place where “people can express an unbiased response to questions about schooling, where educators have a voice in shaping the future through their experience, recommendations and interests.” They bring up topics such as defining and developing school culture, creativity, relationships, empathy, etc.

I have been exploring the online educational chat space, and it is definitely a great way to connect with other teachers and share your ideas. Craig and other moderators facilitate the chat through posting questions prior to the beginning of the chat, and then use the hashtag to keep track of answers. Because it is an online chat, you receive teachers from many different faculties, grades and countries. It provides teachers opportunities to learn about different perspectives of teaching while providing their own insights. This is a great way to start making global connections, which is also an area of Education Craig is very passionate about (I wonder why I am following him! 😉 ).

While I have usetwitter convod twitter, I find it is not the most productive site for having conversation on. I have never participated in a large group chat, so I do admit my bias and lack of knowledge may influence my criticality of the process. While limited character count could be beneficial for large group discussions, I find it could be limiting. I also find twitter to be slightly disorganized when it comes having conversations with multiple people. If everyone is using the same hashtag then conversations between people will not remain in order as they are chronologically listed, so you would have to continue scrolling through tweets to find the next message in that conversation. If #whatisschool becomes bigger, I think it would beneficial to create a forum of some sort in which only those involved in the conversation for #whatisschool can participate.


Another reason I enjoy following Craig’s blog is because he brings in a variety of guest bloggers from multiple fields of education, to provide a new perspective on different topics. For example, he recently had a grade 3-5 ICT teacher in the Philippines who discussed educational technology being used in teaching core subjects (one of the main 21st century literacies).

I am thinking about giving one of the online chats a try! I’ll keep my eye out on a topic I find interesting and I’ll let you know how it goes!

Curating My Global Education Resources

As the world becomes more diverse and connected I believe it is important to start teaching from a global perspective. As a future primary/junior teacher I hope to incorporate both a global and multicultural literacy to my classroom. Both of these literacies link back to global education. Global literacy involves creating “settings that foster students’ understanding of the intersection between their lives and global issues and their sense of responsibility as local and global citizens” (Nair et al., 2012, p. 56). While multicultural literacy “consists of the skills and ability to identify the creators of knowledge and their interests, to uncover the assumptions of knowledge from diverse ethnic and cultural perspectives, and to use knowledge to guide action that will create a humane and just world” (Banks, 2003, p. 3). With these definitions in mind, I would use the following websites in my classroom to help my students develop each literacy and become global citizens.

This “Global Education Category” of my blog will be used as a portfolio for online global education resources which I would like to incorporate into my future classroom.

References

Banks, J. (2003) Teaching for Multicultural Literacy, Global Citizenship, and Social Justice. 2003 Charles Fowler Colloquium on Innovation in Arts Education. University of Maryland, College Park.

Nair, I., Norman, M., Tucker, R., & Burkert, A. (2012). The challenge of global literacy: An ideal opportunity for liberal professional education. Liberal Education, 56-61.

Going Glocal

Okay, I have to say this is a great development for me, I actually wanted to write this blog today, for the sole purpose of writing about something I enjoy. For those who do not know me, I am a big global education and participation activist. I guess this interest began with my desire to volunteer internationally. In grade 11 I was provided the opportunity to participate in an International Development trip run by a small program called HOPE (Home, Opportunity, Prosperity & Education). This program began as a recovery program for families who were severely affected by a hurricane in the Dominican Republic.

This family originally lived isolated in the mountains, in an ‘establishment’ comparable to a mud hut with banana tree leaves as the roof, only eating one meal every two to three days. Through conversation with Juan Antonio one day, he expressed his thanks for our group building his house, he left us with these words, as I will leave them with you, “No one has ever done anything for me in my life, which is why this is so important to me. Thank you very much for finding me and coming back to ensure I got a house, and please, never forget me.”
This family originally lived isolated in the mountains, in an ‘establishment’ comparable to a mud hut with banana tree leaves as the roof, only eating one meal every two to three days. Through conversation with Juan Antonio one day, he expressed his thanks for our group building his house, he left us with these words, as I will leave them with you, “No one has ever done anything for me in my life, which is why this is so important to me. Thank you very much for finding me and coming back to ensure I got a house, and please, never forget me.”

HOPE stood for more than just those four words, HOPE providing people with dignity, working towards solidarity, promoting human rights and sharing the common good. It meant making a difference not only in our lives, but in somebody elses. It meant providing people with dignity, working towards solidarity, promoting human rights and sharing the common good. There were certain events and people on my first trip that made the experience unforgettable, and drove me to continue my participation in international trips. After my first trip I participated in 3 other HOPE trips organized by student’s rather than the school between grade twelve and second year of university, building a total of 5 homes for 5 different families. Each of these trips had such profound impacts on myself, and consist of so many inspiring stories from local community members that I could write a blog on each of them (I just might).

479857_10151882127958696_1848224163_n
For example: This boy’s name is Geraldo, and when he was younger his foot was run over by a vehicle. His foot never healed properly, so he currently walks on his ankle. Not once did I see him act any different from the other kids, he ran, played soccer, danced never stopped smiling. His injury never stopped him.

My most recent international excursion was during May last year and was probably my most influential experience yet. As I’ve gone through the Brock University Con Ed program I have really learned a lot about myself as well as children and youth. In May, I went on a 3 week trip to Kenya, to participate in a community development program through Me to We.  This was the moment I was able to connect my education to my interests and future goals.

Bringing Global and Multicultural Literacy into my Personal Standpoint

During the three weeks I was there, we had the opportunity to build the foundation for the first vocational school built by the Adopt a Village campaign, while also exploring the 5 pillars of community development (education, clean water, health care, food security & alternative income), as well as our personal leadership styles.  It was during our reflections and discussions that I began developing my personal standpoint on theories and praxis of children and youth.

While I acknowledge that each of the 21st century literacies is important to incorporate into the classroom, I have a personal preference towards multicultural and global literacy. The aspect of multicultural literacy that really resonates with me, which I would love to incorporate into my classroom comes from Banks (2003) definition of multicultural literacy which aims to use the knowledge from multiple cultural perspectives to guide action in making a difference in the world we live in. I don’t want to go to into detail on how global literacy and multicultural literacy are integrated, because I have a paper for my 4P27 class which I want to focus on this, and I don’t want to be charged with plagiarism ;). But global literacy also discusses the recognition of different perspectives from multiple cultural groups around the globe. I believe I can use my previous experience to give my student’s a practical example of how it relates to our lives. I want my classroom to become GLOCAL. I want my students to be aware of both the global and the local perspectives and issues around the world, while making connections between them.

One of the Free the Children classrooms built for the elementary school in Enelerai, Kenya
One of the Free the Children classrooms built for the elementary school in Enelerai, Kenya

One resource I am very excited to explore further and implement into my classroom is the Free the Children “Junior World Changer Kit”. It contains a whole set of lessons and the foundation behind them, that teachers can incorporate into their classroom, that can connect to the curriculum. I would love to further explore and analyze these documents in the future prior to becoming a registered teacher.

I wanted to get into my knowledge and understanding of human rights, specifically child rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but I think that will be another blog, as this became more of a lengthy introduction to my background as a future teacher. I am excited to continue sharing my past and present journey’s with you all!

Kenya 2014 450

Reference:

Banks, J. (2003) Teaching for Multicultural Literacy, Global Citizenship, and Social Justice. 2003 Charles Fowler Colloquium on Innovation in Arts Education. University of Maryland, College Park