Attempting to Reach the Summit

A colleague and I spent the last two days at our school preparing the new recruits of our PBL program for what they would be experiencing this upcoming year. We were unable to do this for our first class, but with a year under our belts, we felt we had a great opportunity to give these students a head start into the new school year. We decided to name our two half-day program the summit. Now our two days probably didn’t resemble a summit in the normal sense. I know when most of us think of a summit we think of leaders coming together to put their minds together in order to solve some global issue; however, I feel strongly our summit is aptly named as it is the coming together of minds both young and old-er. (I’m too young to consider myself old quite yet.) With twenty-four hours fading into memory from the end of our two day program, I feel my colleague and I can say proudly that the program was a success.

The goal of the summit wasn’t just to simply introduce students to the nature of our PBL course, but to get their brains to start making “the great transition.” What is this transition you might ask? To me, to be successful in the environment of project-based learning you have to start thinking differently–you have no choice but to become a problem solver and a collaborator. So “the great transition” is simply the a change in the way a student sees his or her role in the process of his or her own learning. We wanted these students walking away from the summit knowing the could no longer passively experience their own education; they must become active learners and participants in their own construction of knowledge. We didn’t take a survey of the participants, but it was easy to see on their faces that what they saw and did over the course of two days was unlike anything they’d done before in school. One student even posted on our wallwisher question board, “Is class always this interesting? Or are we just getting special treatment?” They answer? Well we hope that it is always this interesting honestly. That student will have to judge for him or herself once class begins. What I know I believe is that the class is always designed to be interesting and engaging.

My colleague and I strived to make the experience interactive for the students, and that is what I’m most proud of is the students really got into the activities we did those two days. It encourages me that the summit was a great idea and will really help these students when class starts in just a few short weeks. There is no way to know until we get started I suppose.

I’ll be posting again soon with some results we had from our first year of PBL so stay tuned.

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