From High School Freshman to College Senior, A Former Student Shares Her Final PBL Reflections

There was a time that I shielded Maddie’s identity while she was a minor, writing reflections on my blog about her experiences in my classroom. Today, however, there is little need to as many of you who follow the blog already know her story well. (Oh, and the fact that she is graduating college this semester with an aerospace engineering degree from Georgia Tech and is well on her way to full-fledged adulthood!) I asked Maddie to write one last reflection that would encompass her experiences from a freshman in my first ever project-based learning (PBL) classroom to her impending college graduation. What follows is a heartfelt reflection on her experiences and the advice she has to give to all of us–students, teachers, employers, parents, etc. I am truly honored she continues to be so willing to share her story here. For context and interest, I’m linking her other writings below. I hope you enjoy what Maddie has to say as much as I do.

1st Post (2014) // 2nd Post (2015) // 3rd Post (2016) // 4th Post (2016) // Bonus Studio Reunion

by Maddie Sibilia

It’s been a whole two-and-a-half years since I last wrote a piece for this blog. At the time, I was in the midst of my second internship and had just finished my second full year as a student at Georgia Tech. To say a lot has changed since then would be an understatement.

I’m now in my last semester of my fifth and final year at Georgia Tech, and man, did time fly by. In the time between, I had the privilege of serving as a director for Wreck Camp, an extended orientation program at GT (which – side note – all incoming students should attend), as well as two Wreck Camp staffs and one FASET orientation staff; assisted in the founding of College Club Swimming as a new national governing body (NGB) under the U.S. Masters Swimming umbrella; added a minor in Engineering and Business to my plan of study; planned and ran not one but two College Club Swimming National Championship swim meets that boasted nearly 2100 and 2200 athletes, respectively; took my first solo trip abroad to London to visit one of my dearest friends who is now living there; got more involved with masters swimming becoming a member of the Georgia LMSC (local masters swimming committee) board of directors and later being elected to serve as the youngest-ever member of the U.S. Masters Swimming Board of Directors; and, most recently, accepted my first big girl job at the Boeing Company, specifically within Boeing Commercial Airplanes, in Everett, Washington.

Read more…

Are You a Designer or a Reactor? The Final (Final) Student Reflection


Whether you’ve read any of the other posts related to my writing as design series, you should read this! My two students, S & J, really blew me away with their final response to the question you see in the title. Both bring some thought-provoking points to light for educators to take in as well as students (professionals in other fields as well!). Alright, that is enough from me; I’ll let S and J do all the talking… Continue reading

Blogology: Lets Get Students Reading Again

Here’s my new brainchild–Blogology.

It’s an activity in getting students to buy into reading and then responding to that reading weekly and, in some cases, daily. I won’t fool myself into believing I’m the only educator who has thought of this, but when the idea struck me it felt like a true ah-ha moment. It was one of those moments where you feel like an answer has been under your nose the entire time but hidden just enough from view that you couldn’t see it.

I defined blogology for my students as the process of studying blogs, their writing, and media usage. In a nutshell, I’m allowing students to choose a blog of their interest (with guidelines and examples) and asking them to follow the blog faithfully for twelve full weeks. At the minimum, students are to read at least one post during the week and follow the reading up with a reflective post about what they’ve read. I’m using Google Docs to keep up with their own postings. They all have set up a document and shared it with me. They have until Sunday at midnight to give a thoughtful response to their reading each week, and I check the postings every four weeks to assess their progress and provide them with a formative grade. Admittedly, the process at its start can be cumbersome as students forget how to access their documents, don’t read instructions, or can’t settle on a blog; but after about a week of working the kinks out, students are going full steam ahead, reading outside of class, writing outside of class, and actually enjoying what they’re reading and writing about! Novel, right?!

I won’t know the extent to which this assignment is successful until after the twelve weeks are over, but I have a strong inkling that this will be one of my more successful efforts at independent reading. I also like that this causes students to be more aware of what is being written and shared on the internet. If all goes well, second semester we’ll take this activity to the next level and begin developing critical responses to the posts they read. The vision is to give students honest autonomy to critique, assess, praise, or condemn what they read using not only their sole opinion, but their knowledge of what they’ve been reading.

I’ll give a status update in a few weeks.

Here’s to reading outside the confines of what we label school. Cheers!