Project Based Learning (PBL)
The first is a really practical book about project-based learning that you can get for (mostly) free today. The PBL Playbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Actually Doing Project-Based Learning is the solution for teachers who like the idea of PBL, but aren't quite sure HOW to make it happen. In the book, you'll get a ton of actionable advice for how to work out details like time management, assessment, and homework. Over thirty classroom teachers share their experiences from a wide range of grade levels and subject areas, so you can see what PBL looks like in action.
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PBL Idea from 2/5/18
For this week's exercise your students are going to become tech investors and decide if "Pet Cloning" is a sound investment. They will have to consider a number of angles--the technology, the cost, the demand, and (of course) the morality of it all. Here's the link: http://www.pblproject.com/page.aspx?pageid=PBL-ww-Clones
PBL Idea from 1/29/18
Another exercise about the Winter Olympics, which begins in less than two weeks! This one focuses on the mascots that are chosen for each Olympic Games (this year it is Soohorang, a white tiger). The amount of thought and planning and symbolic meaning that goes into these mascots is tremendous. Unfortunately, most fans view them as an afterthought at best (Do you remember "Vinicius" from the Rio Games)?
Well, this PBL Warm-up will put the Olympic mascot back on the map, because students are being asked to design their own mascot for the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea. Here's the link: http://pblproject.com/page.aspx?pageid=Olympic-Mascot
Another exercise that you might enjoy is the natural follow-up to the crazy weather we've had over the past few weeks in many parts of the country: How do schools make-up all of the school days that were lost due to inclement weather?
As I was putting this together, I learned that school districts are approaching this issue in some creative ways. When the teacher workdays and holidays run out, some are considering adding minutes to the end of the school day for the rest of the year. Of course, the biggest question of all seems to be how many of those days can be "forgiven," which has to come from the state legislatures. Students are going to learn that a lot more goes into these decisions than they might suspect! Here's the link: http://www.pblproject.com/page.aspx?pageid=PBL-ww-Snow-Days
PBL Project Idea 1/22/18
The 2018 Winter Olympics will begin on February 9th in South Korea (so you've probably already spotted that Olympic logo on the bottom of your TV screen if you happen to be watching NBC). The Winter Olympics are held every four years--alternating with the Summer Olympics--and competitors compete in 15 different sports. These events range from the ones we all know (hockey, figure skating, snowboarding, etc.) to the ones most of us don't know so well (luge, curling, Nordic combined, etc.). Still, this is about half of what the Summer Olympics offer.
That leads us to this week's exercise. Your students must try to add to the list of sports for future Winter Games. They must decide on the criteria that should be used when adding new sports to the Olympics, and propose a sport that they think should make the cut. They'll have to consider factors like worldwide participation, venue, safety, overall interest, and--of course--why the sport will improve the Winter Olympic Games. Here's the link: http://pblproject.com/page.aspx?pageid=PBL-ww-Winter-Olympics
If you'd like to put an interesting twist to this exercise, you can focus on the Winter Paralympic Games, which will be held at the same place after the Olympic Games end. The Paralympics consist of six sports that enable athletes with different disabilities to compete against one another (https://www.paralympic.org/sports/winter ... the site shows the sports, and has awesome testimonials from Paralympic athletes in each event). Your students can look at how these sports have been modified to include more athletes, and whether other sports can be added in some way.