A Former Student’s Video Easily Conceptualizes Project-Based Learning for All

 

The video above is the product of a former student of mine–Tiffany–who is closing out her third year at Georgia Tech. In one of her design classes, she was given the choice to develop media of her choosing on a topic of her choosing. She choose to highlight project-based learning (PBL) and use the opportunity to explain succinctly what PBL is and its potential value. She agreed to let me post the After Effects animation here to share. While a short video certainly cannot explain the complexity of PBL, it will serve as a quick primer for students, parents, and teachers alike unfamiliar with the instructional strategy.

When Tiffany shared her first draft of the video with me several months ago, she wrote in an email–

It’s… 1:10am…My final project is finally due today, and while I am still planning on fixing a few minor things, I have finally finished the PBL PSA.
Looking back, it isn’t exactly what I was imagining and honestly is quite imperfect, but after spending over 60 hours laboring over it, I think I am as happy as I can be.
She was clearly exhausted and ready to put this project behind her. Tiffany is also a self-described perfectionist, which I can confirm from her time in my Studio classroom. That said, her pursuit of perfection in many cases is a labor of love, especially when tackling an authentic project. How do I know? Tiffany finished that same email, writing–
Overall, as I was making this video, I could not help but smile at all the amazing memories I had as a high schooler. Both you and Coach Carroll truly made my high school experience so one-of-a-kind and so worthwhile, I just cannot thank you both enough. And I know I have really delayed sending you my “blog post” that may or may not ever get to you (Hopefully it does! Summing up a life-changing portion of your life in a page or 2 is SO challenging), I hope you both know that while this video does not say it, I truly appreciate you both changing my life and showing me how far passion can take you. PBL taught me to truly put my all in everything I do, to play far outside the box, and to follow my passions no matter what (as cheesy as it is).
So Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. (Bold emphasis from the original email)
Tiffany, you may have never written that blog post, but this video and your email says it all. So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
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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!

UPDATE (No Live Stream): Studio #PBL Reunion @ 4PM Today!


UPDATE: Due to tech difficulties, I cannot live stream after all! I’ll have a video up this evening though, so stay tuned for that. Thanks for the patience.
Join us today! A few of my former students will be sharing stories from their high school project-based learning experience, and its potential impact on their current college careers.

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

Student Voices: A Former Student Connects Her PBL Experience to Her Career Choice

 

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Today’s former student post comes all the way from Virginia! “R,” as we’ll call her, was part of the Studio (my project-based learning classroom) for only a year before moving away from the county and state. Inside, R describes how that freshmen year shaped her thinking academically, and the class’s lasting effects on her today. We had lost touch for a little while, but thankfully she recently sought me out for a letter of recommendation. Losing R from the program those many years has always saddened me to some degree. As a teacher, you can go about your day-to-day routine and not always be mindful of students who have passed through your room. While R has not been on my mind all the time, her email to me recently really jogged my memory and allowed me to remember her time in my classroom–a time I think we mutually cherished. Read on to see for yourself.
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