Small Victories

My county’s SPLOST passed last week. The margin was actually much wider than I would have thought based on all the uproar happening on the local education blogs. In any case, a local professor had a great reflection on why it should have been passed anyway.

Rob Jenkins wrote: “… I think school officials have learned their lesson. They had to be sweating this one. And even if someone deserves to be punished for all those questionable [land] transactions, it’s not the teachers and students, who would have been the ones to suffer had we withheld our tax money.”

I’d tend to agree with him.

Now on to a different topic.

I had some great conversations with a few of my students today. Many of my sophomore PBL students have been frustrated this semester feeling as though they’ve been boxed in too much at that the topics for the class are too narrowing for them to enjoy the experience. (This year’s class focuses on world history and world literature, and many feel that looking at history is constraining.) Today, I looked to change some of those attitudes. It had been awhile since I’d had a really candid conversation with some of my students about their interests, and when I got to talking to them I found new ideas sprouting quickly and abundantly. It was a very cool day, and I feel like a small victory.

We were able to brainstorm how to fit more of the history into their interests. One group is going to design a series of t-shirts that represent the time period and the literature they’re reading. Another group is replicating tools and weapons based on the early Mongol civilization, while developing a short epic to explain the origins of the artifacts and yet another is developing an ancient ‘soda’ and developing a ‘what if’ scenario to show trade routes and diffusion amongst early civilizations.

Today was just a great reminder of the power of collaborative conversation and how important it is to the success of a PBL classroom. Time will tell, but I’m willing to bet we’re nearing turning a corner in year two of our PBL class.

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