Too often, teachers tell students exactly what they need to learn instead of guiding students with questions. Essential questions (also known as "driving questions") create authentic learning experiences to engage and motivate students. With strong essential questions, you'll never hear students ask “why are we doing this?”
The most engaging questions are open-ended and require research. They also give students choice by allowing them to align their learning with their own passions and interests. Essential questions are a key element of project-based learning, so we’ve outlined 14 essential question stems to help you get started.
If you’re looking to dive into project based learning with your class but are having trouble finding the right projects, we’re here to help! We’ll looking at 10 project based learning ideas for 2020, featuring some of our favorite PenPals! All of these project based learning ideas come from exploring PenPal Schools topics, so you can bring these PBL ideas to your classroom!
1. Ask your students to analyze fake news
How does Fake News affect communities around the world? Challenge your students to think about the characteristics of exaggerated or disingenuous media and its potential effects on society. In Facts, Opinions and Fake News, students create a public service announcement where they inform others how to distinguish a credible news story from a disreputable one or ask them to write a fictional story imagining a world where people believe every news story they hear.
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.”
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.
Over 550 IB educators around the world signed up to learn more about global project-based learning with PenPal Schools!
During the webinar, educators had the chance to participate in a #GlobalPBL Twitter chat to connect and share resources. We discussed student agency, assessment, planning, and tips for teachers that are new to project-based learning.
Global connections are a great way to practice a new language. Whether connecting with native speakers or other language learners, global connections allow students to practice authentic communication.
For native speakers, connecting with language learners allows students to examine communication skills in a new way. Students often take their time to craft well structured paragraphs and sentences and pay closer attention to spelling, grammar, and punctuation so that language learners can understand their ideas.
This week’s PenPal Star demonstrated excellent writing skills when she participated in Comunidades del Mundo. Meet PenPal Star Mar from Spain! Mar had the opportunity to learn more about world cultures and practice her language and communication skills with Spanish learners.
Political leaders across the USA are being sworn into office this month. As elected officials, they’ll help make decisions that affect towns, cities, and states across the USA. Young people have a lot of opinions and ideas about the issues affecting their futures. That’s why so many students are exploring American Perspectives, a project based learning unit that allows students to form and share opinions about some of today’s most important issues such as education, health care, the economy, energy, immigration. Students have access to information about a variety of political perspectives through guiding questions, videos, texts, and images.
This week, we are excited to highlight a 5th grade class from Fox Meadow Elementary School in New York, USA as our PenPal Stars!
Join more than 1,100 students as they participate in Holidays & Festivals of the World this month! Many countries are getting ready to celebrate holidays such as Christmas, New Years, and Día de los Reyes Magos and students are excited to share their holiday traditions! Use this excitement to motivate students advance their writing skills and share their culture and traditions with our collaborative learning community.
In November, students from around the world participated in a special photography contest to share photos of the people, places, and things they are grateful for. Students participated in the special PenPal Schools topic Giving Thanks Through Photography and submitted photos to the Showcase. The PenPal Schools team chose the 5 best student photos and shared them on social media for community voting.
Your votes have been counted, and we’re excited to announce that Lera from Ukraine is the winner! Congratulations, Lera! Check out her winning project:
For many of our readers, it’s almost holiday break! Parents, students, and teachers alike are counting down the days until vacation. However, how can you make the most of the time you have left?