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…

Studio Reunion #PBL Chat Video

The conversation was over an hour long, and while a live broadcast would have been cool, I brought my regular ol’ camera to capture the conversation just in case. We all laughed at the situation as one of our on-going mantras of The Studio class was, “Always have a backup!” I hope you enjoy the discussion as much as we enjoyed having it. There are some profound nuggets about experiential learning, authenticity in education, and the impact of relationships in a classroom–all of which play a role in well-developed project-based learning. I want to think Tiffany, Maddie, Kevin, and Abby again for their time yesterday. They are all busy college students, and I so deeply appreciate their time. Enjoy and please share!

Coming Soon: An Afternoon with The Studio Squad

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On Sunday, September 18 something very cool will happen. Seven years ago I started a project-based learning (PBL)classroom with my friend Nic Carroll we coined as The Studio. When I started this blog many years ago, much of my posts surrounded me blundering my way through teaching in an immersive PBL experience. I stayed mostly positive here, but there were very real struggles. What made building The Studio worth all the trial and error and ups and downs were the students who took the journey with us. In just over a week I get The chance to sit down with five students who started and finished the journey with me. They are all successful college students in their third year of university studies. We will broadcast live here on the blog at 4PM and reflect on their time in Studio and looking at their lives now. I truly do not know what they’ll say or how they’ll answer my questions, but my hope is this broadcast will provide powerful insight into how PBL as an instructional practice and teachers and students who take it up impact our lives experiences. As much as this is my seven year journey it is theirs as well. I hope people tune in to be part of the conversation. I promise it will be worth it!

Here’s a link to the broadcast on YouTube: https://youtu.be/7NZftMcmA9M

A Worthwhile Read: A Georgia Tech Student Reflects on #PBL and Internships

“[J]obs that teach you what you DON’T want to do are just as valuable as those that teach you what you DO want to do, just like classes that teach you what you DON’T want to study in college are just as valuable as those that DO. And this is perhaps the most important thing to remember.”

I really want to encourage anyone who sees this post to please share it. I have had the pleasure of knowing Ms. Sibilia since she was a freshman in high school and to watch her evolution from my PBL classroom to her current status as a junior at Georgia Tech has been one of the more rewarding aspects of my career. She has been kind enough to share her reflections in the past on my blog, but this post may best sum up the benefits and purpose of PBL longitudinally. I hope you enjoy reading what’s inside as much as I did. Continue reading

Student-Made Zines @ Sugar Hill Maker Fest!

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As wrap up my school year, my data collection, and this years adventure in zine making, my students and I will be showing off their work THIS SATURDAY at the very first Sugar Hill Maker Fest. The maker movement is gaining momentum across the country, and I excited to see both my school and community embrace showing off all the great stuff people make for fun, out of love, and to innovate. I firmly believe my students are makers–they made zines after all–so to celebrate their work we will have a zine booth at the Maker Fest on Saturday. Come by and get a free copy of some of the zines and meet some of their creators!

To me this is one of ultimate opportunities for my students to have a real, authentic audience for their work. The zinecast is great, but sometimes nothing beats the physical distribution of your work. Hope see you there!