Project Sketch – Making Learning Real

Reinventing Project-Based Learning

I love the idea of project-based learning, and can see that over the past handful of years, my teaching methods have swung towards this type of activity. Through PBL, we attempt to make learning “more authentic, meaningful & rigorous.” (Reinventing Project-Based Learning) The main goal is to “help diverse learners meet instructional goals in wildly different contexts.” (Reinventing Project-Based Learning). We need to help students develop 21st century skills.

My opinion – keeping it real makes it authentic and learners will obviously be more engaged. Rarely do I hear a student comment how interesting a worksheet is, or how intriguing a test was. I also feel it is important to maintain balance, so that we suit all of the learning styles we have in our classroom.

Another point. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I am still trying to move away from being seen (by my students) as THE source of knowledge in the room, and make them realize that there are many different sources we can use, including their peers, that are just as (or more) effective. This is just another reason to integrate more technology into my classroom practice.

My project sketch title is: Heritage

I want my students to understand: Appreciating our past influences what is preserved for the future.

Here is what I am thinking. First, I want them to focus on issues that are meaningful to THEM. So, we will begin by looking at heritage from a personal (and family) level, as students discuss at home with their families what their definition of heritage is, and what they can share with the class related to their personal heritage.

Then, we will be expanding ourselves and looking globally. Students will be introduced to the World Heritage List, and asked to make connections with prior experiences (or learning). At this point, essential questions could be:

What is a World heritage Site?

Have they ever visited a World Heritage Site?

What Heritage Sites exist in their home countries?

I want them to be engaged, so looking into issues which they have some prior knowledge on, or feel a strong connection to (home country) will address this. I am hoping they will be passionate about their cause, and see that their knowledge, skills and actions can have an impact one day. I love the point in (Reinventing Project-Based Learning) which says “when you tap your students’ enthusiasm, you increase the likelihood that they will dive into deep inquiry and come away with essential understanding.”

From there, we will investigate what it takes to become a World Heritage Site, and why sites are put on this list. What are the benefits? Are there any negative effects? Students would be assigned 3 case studies (from different areas of the world, but not necessarily on the World Heritage List), and asked to analyze what form of heritage each site takes, and determine which one they would recommend to become a member of this protected list, and why. Their recommendation would be aided by virtual visits to the sites using Google Earth, Google Images, You Tube, Discovery Learning and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

In the end, students will be asked to share their thoughts on which site they would recommend and why using digital tools such as iMovie, iPhoto, blogs (Glogster) and podcasts… still to be decided. The rubric would be student-generated, and reflect the enduring understandings of the unit. Also, students would be asked to determine any actions we could take which would benefit (or lesson the impact), which humankind has on sites such as these. Besides being placed on a “protected list”, what else can we do to preserve what we have? How can YOU take action?


~ by yamaguru on February 28, 2009.

One Response to “Project Sketch – Making Learning Real”

  1. I love how student centered this project is – you have your students involved from the very beginning and you keep them in the mix right until the very end!

    My one question is: What are the benchmarks you’re going to meet with this unit? I’m assuming it’s for Social Studies? How does it fit with your curriculum?

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