Final Mrs. C Update/Reflection: When All Else Fails, Adapt!

Ocean project 3

Yes, those are live hermit crabs!

To be clear, I was absolutely going for a bit of a science pun with having “adapt” in my title today. Did it land? Eh, in any case, I’m excited to share with you the conclusion of the five week Oceanography project with Mrs. C’s class. Being Mrs. C’s first foray into project-based learning (PBL), there was plenty of concern about where to start and how to finish, but as her reflection today will show the mess in concern to PBL I am always talking about was worth it. For anyone reading not familiar with the start of this process, you can check out part 1, part 2, and part 3. Inside today’s post, I’ll share some reflections, but most of what you’ll read is from Mrs. C herself. Check it and out see for yourself how our adventure concluded! Continue reading

“Push It Past the Point of a Grade”: Advice from Experienced PBLers

I am unfortunately at home sick today, fighting off a nasty cold at the end of the school year. Between bouts of sleep and dosages of medicine, I did want to use this down time to bring you the video above. My school’s A/V program developed programming last year we call [WE ARE LANIER], which highlights various teachers, community members, and occasionally students making an impact at the school and the surrounding community. This episode highlights the eyeliner stamp patent young women I have posted about before. While the district made a video to highlight how innovative it is, this video really highlights the young ladies themselves.

It’s a short video, but some of what they say is important for any of us pursuing the use of project-based learning in our classroom. These young ladies had been steeped in PBL work their freshmen year of high school, so as sophomores they took a good idea and made it a great, authentic product. The process is long (the patent was submitted at the end of their sophomore year and was approved mid-way through their senior year), which is aggravating for educators as we are under pressure to get immediate results from our students. But with patience and persistence, students can truly become great problem solvers and critical thinkers in ways that simply are not measurable on a standardized test.

As I feel a bout of sleep coming again, I’ll leave you with my favorite quote in the video that embodies the mindset I want all my students to take on when wading through the messiness of PBL:

“Take every opportunity you have. Don’t blow off a school project just because it’s cool [to blow it off] and you want an A. If you’re really passionate about it push it past the point of a grade.”

“Lessons in the Family Orchard”: A Poem for the Mother of My Child

Happy Mother’s Day to one and all! To new moms, veterans, step-moms, mothers-to-be, mothers-in-waiting, motherly figures, single dads acting as mom and dad, and especially to those whose moms are no longer with us and those mothers whose child is not able to celebrate with them.

I rarely post personal work on the blog, but today is awfully special as it’s my wife’s first Mother’s Day as a newly minted mom. Below is the poem I gave her this morning. Enjoy!

Lessons in the Family Orchard

In elementary school, we learn about plants

and trees and their anatomies. Not

in detail, like the process of photosynthesis.

We learn about roots,

branches,

leaves.

Roots that dig deep into the earth;

branches that stretch into the open air;

leaves that color the sky.

We learn to admire trees for their age,

their colors, their breath of life. And

we see them as emblems of our own family.
We learn to trace our family’s roots,

branches,

leaves.

Roots that ground us to traditions;

branches that grow our legacy;

leaves that lead to new life.

I have learned to see you as our tree,

steadfast against the elements. You

continue to grow, reaching new heights.

I have learned about your roots,

branches,

leaves.

Roots that hold fast to us;

branches that protect us;

leaves that gave us new life.

You will learn to watch her grow in our

orchard only to start her own. She

will thrive in your umbrage day and night.

You will teach her about her roots,

branches,

leaves.

Roots that tell her she is known;

branches that show her reach;

leaves that lead to legacy.

She will grow, fed by your love–both pruning and watering;

she will love, led by your example–both truly and deeply–

just like the roots, branches, and leaves

of her mother.  

-W. K. Jones

Update on Mrs. C: An Interactive Museum Takes Shape

As promised, here is the latest on Mrs. C’s Oceanography project. You can see the initial start of the process here and here.  The first link talks about developing a PBL (project-based learning) toolbox and the second specifically talks about the beginning of Mrs. C’s project. Today’s post really reflects on the ebb and flow of PBL and how flexibility on the part of the teacher and student is a valuable attribute to successfully working through PBL. As I’ve stated before, PBL is messy as it reflects how projects in our life operate. This is especially true the first time we attempt a project that has foreign components to it. (I’m thinking about the process of me building an outdoor table for my deck at the moment–in the long run, it got done, but not without some headaches and learning along the way.) For Mrs. C, the combination of limited travel time, AP exams, and a few apathetic seniors definitely impacted her PBL–yet, the project is moving forward and there are some very cool installations coming together. Continue reading

Student Voices: On Learning the Art of Teaching

apples

Today’s post is a quick reflection of a student’s time in my Teaching as a Profession class this year. The student is a sophomore and is considering becoming a school counselor one day. I appreciate her taking the time to share a few quick thoughts on what she is taking away from her time in the class. COMING SOON: An update on Mrs. C’s oceanography project! Continue reading