In a previous post called Rethinking Classroom Design to Build a Culture of Problem Solving, I wrote about how a colleague and I changed how we thought about the beginning of the school year. In this post, I write about the same group of students several months into the year and what can happen when foundations of independent thinking, solving problems, and taking action are established as integral parts of a classroom culture.
On the first day of school, the students knew what they were in for. Some of them took to the challenge of setting up the room beautifully, and some leadership emerged. Others clearly had difficulty working in an environment that was not controlled. This did not, however, sway me from my vision. Like me, they would just have to learn a new way of doing things. They would have to learn to trust their own thinking and trust each other.
Change can be hard, but Juanita has embraced it with open arms by bringing Project- Based Learning to her 1st- grade students. Along with her 1st- grade partner teacher and school community, she has facilitated engaging projects like Food Transformers with a focus on matter and learning about exotic foods and designing a new Olympic sport to teach forces and motion. Here's her perspective on the benefits of PBL.