Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An Adventure in Student Directed Project Based Learning

Good morning all!

I am really excited to share with you a new project here at the Atlantic Home School Assistance Program.  As you know, in our enrichment time we have been exploring and learning around the theme, National Treasure.  I have been trying to come up with a large project that the students can do sort of cooperatively this spring.  That is a little tricky, since we have 20 families, students of many ages and stages and you aren't all physically here at the same time.

A couple of years ago, you might remember The Castle.  We managed to build a HUGE castle in the classroom and each family became an expert in one aspect of medieval structure or life and added their section.  It just kept growing and expanding until it looked something like this:

So here's my big idea for this year... A HUGE map of the USA.  That's the first step.  A really large floor map of the country, but then, families or individual students will choose something that they want to become an expert about.  It could be a landmark, a National Park, a famous person, a building or institution.  The possibilities are endless and will be directed by the student's interests and passions.  Once they choose that special person, place, or thing to research, the end product will be some type of scale model that will be placed on the map.

All throughout this project, I will attempt to blog, tweet and do some video recording of the process.  I hope to make a short movie at the end.  

The first step is going to be deciding how to make an accurate floor size map of the USA.   In an attempt to make this an authentic experience, I plan to have students propose plans on how we should do this.  In the real world that adult live in, different firms make bids for jobs.  So, students can give me their ideas and proposals on how we should begin.  Once a process is chosen, then we will all work together to construct the map.  When the map is finished, it will be time to commence becoming experts in a narrower field.  The trick for me will be asking leading questions to quide learning without telling them how to do it.  If students take ownership, their learning will be higher.  I know it will be hard sometimes to keep my mouth shut.  I am confident that they will come up with better ideas than I have right now if I just let them and keep an open mind.

If you are interested in our progress, keep checking the blog.  Or, you can follow me on Twitter. (@mom43rs)  OR, you could also stop by and see our progress.  This is exciting!


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