Can I brag about my students for just a few minutes? I’m so proud of their work over these last few weeks as they engaged in project based learning. They were amazed by our virtual field trip to the Borneo rainforest, inspired to take a stand, awed by my colleague’s lesson on writing hip hop and freestyle rap, and challenged to create persuasive media to make a change in the world. They have been motivated by a cause and encouraged to creatively solve real problems.
|Mr. Porter brainstorms a word list to use while rapping.|
Photo by Rachel Lamb
|Hip hop in action!|
Photo by Rachel Lamb
If you’re interested in the reading more about the project based learning my students participated in, see the last section of my post titled Personalization and Universal Design for Learning or visit the webpage I created to house all the materials we used.
A Sample of Student Work
These students chose to persuade their peers to donate money to help solve the clean water crisis. Did you hear those lyrics? They used their research to paint a picture of the problem and help their peers relate to the tragic hardships that others face on a daily basis. Wow!!
This group researched both deforestation and forest fires and wrote a song to persuade people to use trees responsibly and put out campfires completely.
These two student groups originally chose to make an infographic to persuade the community to donate money to solve the clean water crisis. Unfortunately, we had to change our infographics to posters because I stretched myself too thin and was unable to provide all the background knowledge these groups needed to complete their original project while also supporting the many needs of the other groups.
Stretched too Thin: Incorporating Blended Learning
My students were given many options during their learning. They chose the natural resource they planned to research, how they learned about today’s issues, and the type of media project they would create. Somehow, I didn’t anticipate that this would require more support than I could possibly give face-to-face. Looking back, it’s obvious that I either needed fewer choices for my students or more teachers to meet the needs of my students.
I’d hate to restrict my students, especially seeing how engaged and motivated they were to create their projects. At the same time, I let my students down a bit because I wasn’t able to fully support each group. So, that leaves needing more teachers. I’m remembering back to my biggest ah-ha moment while using blended learning: blended learning essentially allows you to make your own digital co-teacher. It can increase the productivity of your face-to-face time with students because you are basically cloning yourself by providing quality instruction online while also supporting that instruction when you meet with students.
Next year, I plan to create a series of online lessons to meet some of the most frequent needs of my students during this project. First, a solid review of persuasive techniques would be helpful. Next, I would also design a variety of lessons covering the various elements and design principles of various media options that students chose including song writing, infographics, and public service announcements. These online lessons would give students a foundation to build from and allow me to be much more intentional in my face-to-face time with my students.