Now that more schools around the world have access to the internet, teachers are eager to connect their students globally. Global connections not only increase engagement for students and improve social & emotional skills like empathy, but they also require students to improve communication skills like reading, writing, and digital literacy. Global connections can take your project-based learning unit to the next level! According to Andrew Miller, “PBL naturally connects to global readiness as it focuses on complex issues, problem solving, and taking action.”
Student choice is one of the project-based learning essential project design elements, according to the Buck Institute, because choice helps students take ownership of their learning. Without it, John Larmer and John Mergendoller explain, “the project just feels like doing an exercise or following a set of directions.” However, providing student choice can sometimes be one of the most overwhelming aspects of project-based learning for teachers who fear that choice can quickly turn into chaos.
Developing a classroom culture where students drive the learning requires teachers to mindfully provide student choice in a way that develops agency. Where “choice” allows students to make a decision, “agency” refers to the parameters that influence that decision. For example, let’s pretend that student choice is a brand new concept in your classroom, and you decide to allow students to choose their own topics for their next research paper. You may think to yourself “Yes, I’m doing it! My students can now take ownership of their learning!” But then they don’t. They moan and grumble and decide on topics that seem to be just as pointless to them as something you’d assign.
by Mark Danforth, PenPal Schools Chief Learning Officer
Student voice helps shape the learning experience by encouraging students to sharing their opinions, beliefs, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds. As a result, units, lessons, and projects become more relevant to students. Student voice is at the core of project-based learning (and every PenPal Schools project), and it requires more than simply allowing students opportunities to speak during class. Here are four ways you can nurture student voice in all of your PBL units.
When you’re starting project-based learning for the first time, there are a lot of stakeholders to get on board, from administrators to colleagues and parents. Too often, teachers forget about the most important people: the students! Here are three ways to introduce project-based learning to your students to get them excited, engaged, and eager to learn!
Panels, posters, and lectures, oh my! Did you know that there are more than 1,300 different sessions, events, and learning opportunities at ISTE 2018?! To help handle the pre-conference planning stress, We sat down to create a list of the opportunities that we are most excited for at ISTE 2018. We chose opportunities led by school leaders and teachers as well as opportunities that align with the learning goals supported by PenPal Schools! Enjoy the list, share your feedback, and don’t miss our general conference tips at the bottom of the article.
Too often, teachers tell students exactly what they’ll be learning instead of guiding students with questions. With project-based learning, questions create authentic learning scenarios to engage, motivate, and help students guide themselves. Good questions help you provide a purpose for learning so that you never hear students say “why are we doing this?”
The most engaging questions are open-ended and require investigation or research in order to answer. They also give students choice by allowing them to align their learning with their own passions and interests. Essential questions, or driving questions, are a key element of project-based learning, so we’ve outlined 14 question stems to help you craft the most engaging essential questions.
We all know that 21st century learners need to be excellent collaborators, but how do you ensure that students are truly collaborating? There are too many horror stories about “group work” really being one or two people working while the rest of the group receives credit. Fortunately, there are a varieties of strategies and resources to help with every piece of the process - from defining responsibilities, to managing tasks, to discussing ideas and creating deliverables. Here are some strategies and tools to help you ensure that collaborative learning is truly collaborative.
If you’re a teacher interested in implementing project-based learning, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why PenPal Schools spoke with our teachers from all over the world to learn how they’ve successfully transitioned to PBL. Here are four steps to get started with PBL in your classroom.
1. Make projects purposeful
“Why are we doing this?” If you hear these words from your students, that’s a sure sign that your PBL could use some improvement. It should be clear to students what they are doing and why. Real-world problems clearly define the purpose of the project. There is a lot of room for creativity here! If you want your students to create a news article, ask them to write for a real news publication. If you want your students to learn about climate change, ask them to solve a real environmental challenge facing your community.
Art helps people make sense of the world around them. Whether telling stories about a community or inspiring a debate, art introduces new ideas and can be powerful enough to change the world.
Students around the world have been creating and sharing art with PenPals in The Power of Art, and this week we are excited to highlight some stellar artists as our PenPals of the Week! Congratulations to Daniel, Emily, Danny, and Walran from New York, USA, Hannah from Texas, USA, Aunva from Thailand, and Sergiy from Ukraine!
When you think about global education, chances are the first thing you think about is learning about different countries and cultures. Why simply read about various world cultures when you can explore and compare them with global PenPals! A global PenPal exchange brings geography to life, adds context to cultural studies, and motivates students to examine their own communities.
This week, we’re celebrating PenPals of the Week Lukas from Sweden, Sebastian and Stacy from Texas, Callie from Georgia, Hayden and Vanessa from South Carolina, Amber from South Africa, Celestino, Martina, and Santiago from Argentina who recently completed World Explorer.