A Note: A Former Student Recalls the Value of Her Project-Based Learning Experience

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This will be a rather busy week, so the next part of the “Building an Ethic of Caring in the Classroom” will likely be delayed. As a quick preview, the post will explore the nature of how a classroom, at times, sets itself up to have winners meaning there has to be losers, and the dire implications that can have on a student’s education. See parts 1, 2, 3,  and 4 by clicking the linked numbers.

Today I am simply sharing a note I received from a former student, Tiffany, who was part of my first project-based learning (PBL) immersive classroom (The Studio) with my friend and colleague, Nic Carroll. Her note is a reminder why teaching is such a rewarding occupation, and it certainly champions what PBL as an instructional approach may inspire. Tiffany is a recent graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Enjoy!

Hi Carroll and Jones-y,

Before I begin, I am typing this on my slow, laggy phone, so I apologize (particularly to Coach Jones) for any typos…

I just wanted to send you a little note to thank you both AGAIN for being such an influential people early in my career. I know I have thanked you both before, but I will be eternally grateful for the impact you made in my life.

PBL completely changed my life aspirations early on, teaching me to pursue my passions, regardless of what the world was telling me. PBL allowed me to explore my creative side, transforming PowerPoint presentations into memorable experiences and creating websites and logos, early in my ‘career’.

On Wednesday, I interviewed for a graphic design position that also includes PowerPoint design/animation. Let’s just say that PBL came up, and I found myself reminiscing back to the moments with PBL that truly changed my life.

Fast forward to today… I was just offered the position a few hours ago and am so excited. While I have loved and will continue the freelance life as the Founder/CEO of TDang Designs LLC, I am super pumped to be learning and working under someone else. And as I celebrate with my friends and family, I just wanted to share my life update with 2 people that have been an integral part in shaping who I am today.

I can’t thank you both enough…

So much love,
Tiffany

No, Tiffany, thank you!

Back to Basics (for a Moment at Least)

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Yesterday I was invited to visit my former school to work with their rising freshmen for a breakout session focused on teamwork, collaboration, and project-based learning (PBL). I was thankful I had an opportunity to run a session alongside some really awesome student leaders. With only 25 minutes for each session, I wanted to grapple with misconceptions about how teams work, engage them in a collaborative activity, and thoughtfully reflect on how teamwork and collaboration are affected by group size, personalities, and unforeseen obstacles. What better way to do this than have students design, build, and play their own mini-golf hole? Continue reading

Authentic Learning in CTE: An Exercise Physiology Project Launch Combines Content, Data, and Real Athletes

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I have become a bit of a jack of all trades in the last four years, including becoming a career and technical education (CTE) teacher and now department chair. One of my goals this year was to increase my teachers’ capacity for innovative instruction and project-based learning (PBL). While some of my teachers need more traditional support for classroom management and instructional planning, I have several who are wading deep into the PBL waters. One such teacher is one of our health occupations teachers, Mr. S. Mr. S is teaching the third level class of the Healthcare Pathway named Exercise Physiology. The class can end in students achieving national certification as a personal trainer recognized anywhere and certifying them to work in any gym. The work is technical and heavy in vocabulary, jargon, and math, which can be off-putting for students no matter how engaged they are with going into the healthcare field. So Mr. S and I started planning a project that would authenticate the processes and jargon they were learning through application with very real clients–some of the school’s student athletes. Continue reading

The Studio Reunion 2.0: Revisiting the Impact of an Immersive PBL Classroom

Happy New Year!

With a new year comes a renewed focus on the blog, beginning with a very special first post of the year. Nearly two years ago I sat down with four students who were part of my very first cohort of students who were in my completely immersive cross-curricular, project-based learning  classroom. Today I share with you a another conversation made up of five other former students who were part of the second cohort of students. Much like the group before, they are in their final years of college, and they are all on the cusp of entering the job market. Continue reading

2017: A Retrospective

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My family after successfully defending.

2017 has been one of the most eventful years of my life. I became a dad; I earned my doctorate; I published an entry in SAGE encyclopedia as well as a few other neat moments along the way. Today’s post is dedicated to recounting and appreciating this past year, so fair warning that this post is selfishly about me and my family. I will unpack and reflect on my pedagogy, of course, but I’ll spend time doing the same about me personally.

A BIG thank you to the many in my life who made this year a special one for me. Continue reading