I was fascinated by this video that highlights a school’s efforts to design a PBL unit that spans various content levels. It shows the possibilities and offers a working example of what can be done.
I’ve spent a great deal of my life in learning environments, either at church or in school. Since I was young, I’ve had little patience with what I now know as segregated learning. The purpose of learning should be relevant to my life in some way and be connected to things that really matter to me. It should help me know more, do better, and be better. We live in an integrated and multitasking world, not one where knowledge is compartmentalized and isolated. Textbooks are titled by subject, but life most certainly is not. Project Based Learning is founded on authenticity and relevancy.
As shown in this video, teachers can work across content areas to develop powerful PBL projects either in a school-wide effort on a large scale or a few teachers on a smaller scale. With a little imagination, every project has elements from another content area that could easily be included. Through such collaboration, teachers would demonstrate 21st Century NETS for Teachers and “collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success
and innovation” (ISTE, 2008, p. 1). They would be models – examples – of using the very skills they are trying to teach their students.
Since I am just starting my new job in the fall as Technology Integration Specialist, I am not sure how much integrated curriculum planning goes on. I know of a few small projects that have involved two classes, and one school-wide service learning collaboration. I would like to try this type of planning and see if I can assist teachers in this area.
Project: Me is geared for history and social studies, but could also easily integrate math, science, and English. For science, students could incorporate genetics and analyze some of the physical characteristics and biology that make people unique. In Math, students could compare statistics and analyze numerical global trends. In English, students could write personal narratives about an aspect of their lives (religion, family traditions, birth order) that contribute to who they are. If done well, this integrated approach could truly be a win-win for everyone.
International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). NETS for teachers. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-teachers.aspx