Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Essential Question: How did it come to be this way?

I've been helping Indian teachers plan projects for their students, and not surprisingly, many of these focus on solving environmental challenges. Scarce water, plastic waste everywhere, bad air, no place to play, all of these issues affect the lives and health of Indian kids. Teachers' projects tend to focus on the capacity of the individual to make a difference. I guess I'm pessimistic-- with such huge problems intense collective action is required. I wonder if instead of personal action projects and awareness campaigns students should practice collective action that has a concrete and measurable result. A result they can reflect on later and think, I was part of something that made a difference and I can keep operating this way. Still muddling over this shift and how to talk about it with teachers. Any thoughts? 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Get Parents on Board

If you're new to project-based learning, chances are you're having some interesting conversations with parents who want to know why you're switching up classroom routines. I've heard parents pointedly ask why their kids have to collaborate on projects.
Here's a new (free) guide from Edutopia to help parents understand why 21st-century learning is essential preparation for their children's future. I've culled resources and ideas from a variety of sources to help parents understand the value of collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity. You'll find examples organized by grade level to help parents get a better idea of what 21st-c learning looks like when it's working well.
(To download your copy, first register for a free user account at

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Turn

My plucky friend Suzie toured India with PBL workshops last Fall and now it's my turn. What an adventure! Right now I'm in Gurgaon, about an hour outside of Delhi and known as the "outsourcing capital of India." A megalopolis in just a decade, "As per the provisional data released by the state, Gurgaons population in 2011 stands at 15,14,085 against 8,70,539 in 2001." That's a 73% growth rate. I look forward to learning what this means for the school I'm working with, Lotus Valley, Gurgaon, and India.
My first school, New Era School in Delhi.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

So Much More Than That

We often talk about the importance of student voice and choice in effective project design, but how often does a project manage to help students discover--and use--their voices as citizens? Read an Edutopia interview with one of the teachers whose students produced More Than That as a rebuttal to an ABC documentary about growing up on the reservation.