Ms. C PBL Update: An Oceanography Project Begins

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This past Thursday, Ms. C–one of the two science teachers I’m doing the praxis of PBL alongside–launched her senior oceanography students into their first day of project research. Technically, she had already launched the project. While the launch was not ‘glitzy,’ getting their input into the shape of the project, its rubric, and knowing their audience pulled them into the project nonetheless. If you have ever taught at a high school, then you know that at this point in the year seniors have a tendency to start to mentally checking out of their classes. Many have found out what schools they have gotten into for next year, which may contribute to the malaise many seniors find themselves the last quarter of the year. Whatever the case, Ms. C knew she would be up against her students’ potential lethargy. To assuage her concern, contacted our cluster elementary schools and asked if their students could act as an audience for Ms. C’ s students’ project work–the answer was a resounding ‘yes.’ The built in audience of elementary school students–while it does not guarantee participation–should help keep her students motivated. Really, that is the case with any project. Without a a touch of authenticity or real audience, skeptical and reluctant students alike will not find PBL any more relevant than the worksheets they are still given. Continue reading