PBL, Day 1

Today was nothing less than amazing.  After taking the time to discuss our school time, I threw out the idea of creating a bird playground in one of the outside areas of our Student Center. ((Project idea borrowed shamelessly from Gary Stager…. because I’m not at the point of creating my own yet!)) Stand back, all people in the area! They totally loved it.  Down came the whiteboard, and ideas flew all over the place… which I find funny. Ideas flew in planning a bird playground? Sorry. Couldn’t help it. I’ll attempt to refrain from more bird jokes, but I doubt it will happen.

They started planning, which led them outside to discuss possible sites. They measured, plotted, picked up trash, talked, shared, collaborated…. I was frankly amazed.

Specifically, they:

  • Discussed project divisions
  • Brainstormed ideas
  • Researched bird predators
  • Researched birds and their environments
  • Researched a nearby landscaping company
  • Purchased business card paper and posterboard
  • Started a ‘task stream’
  • Created and printed personal business cards so they can meet with ‘experts’ in a professional manner
  • Discussed the meaning and format of a proposal (i.e. Was there a proposal for the Constitution?)
  • Listed the benefits of the bird playground for their initial presentation to the landlord
  • Scheduled an appointment with a landscape architect
  • Measured potential sites and discussed the shapes and sizes
  • Plotted the spaces on graph paper
  • Discussed economics of the project
  • Defined roles for some of the students
  • Crunched some numbers for materials
  • Sourced free materials
  • Located ‘experts’ who can advise them on their project
  • Planned upcoming field trips to observe birds and their habitats
  • Collected all the litter in the two zones they are considering

As the day drew to a close, we all walked to the landscape company next door to request an appointment with the owner. They brought their business cards, and came back with an appointment for Monday and more things to add to our task stream.

Teacher Observations: I learned that much of the initial process will be supporting their self-learning journey. I had a student in tears twice today because I did not give a specific answer to a question, but rather gave several suggestions for how the student could find the answer. I wasn’t trying to be obtuse- I would have had to look up the information as well. It will take time for them to get used to being more independent. I loved the camaraderie and teamwork that I saw today.  Even the upset student was enfolded and tasks reorganized so that there was less frustration… all on their own. They were not ready to leave today, and cannot wait to return tomorrow. They also think this project will be over in a single week, which I find amusing. I think it will be a 4-6 week project. Today, there were spelling words corrected in the course of the day… which were spelled properly later in the day without and prompting or studying. We used math in our budget calculations, space calculations, and measurements. They read whole websites for information on birds as well as companies who are experts in this field. I feel very comfortable today with the amount of work they did and the varied ground they covered. If anything, I need to help them stop and take breaks to play outside so they can come back at the project with fresh minds and bodies. I was surprised to see them pulling in things like the writing of the Constitution into a bird playground project. The biggest frustration today was not having printer drivers setup for printing business cards and not having the same program on all our computer for that. We discussed how to pause one task and move on to another while waiting for my help.

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