What an amazing first week! While you never know what to expect, I'm usually too intense to be ecstatic about the results. However, I am. When the students leave after working hard for 3 hours, some not even taking a break at all, and the most common thing you hear is "I can't believe it's 3 hours already."
Now, we didn't start with "pure" project-based learning this week. In some online discussions with our good folks at Edutopia.org, Jane Krauss in particular, "pure PBL" is when the students are given an end result, but have the choice of the final demonstration of learning, as well as the path to get there. Any environment with more detailed instruction is "activity-based learning". But it was very good to start out with that. I think most 9th graders need to be taught how to be creative, they're SO not used to it in a professional environment. By the way, that's our only class principle: this is a professional environment. No rules, a principle.
The students finished Week 1 with new Google Apps accounts, shared Documents, developed sites using Google Sites wiki tool, and some strong language arts exercises focused on autobiographies. We asked them about themselves, and to be creative, two things our teens do very well. Many students were "done" in 3 days time, and have already begun their second project. (See the Student Portal > Assignments to view their projects.)
For me, it was a paradigm shift to work with students in a language arts world, where they are much more descriptive and sharing. You don't get much personal info when you teach programming/code! The personal challenges and goals were inspiring, and I've never felt so personally connected to my students so quickly.
It's going to be a busy week coming up: Board of Advisors on Tuesday, meet with the NGHS PBL team on Wednesday, the Board of Ed and Cabinet on Thursday, it's going to be awesome! We've got some great plans for projects, as the students have already begun to ask "Can we do ....". We'll let you know when the projects are ready. Woohoo, this is great! Thanks to the County and all others for your support!
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