Inspired by possibilities of #PBL – how are we engaging our students with problem finding and solving?

Two emails and a nearby creek have me giddy about #PBL possibilities. Yep, that’s right – I said giddy. I admit that I have an issue – whatever it is I think I see… becomes a PBL to me.

Giddy-up #1: Soccket! Yesterday, my long-time co-teacher and learning partner @jgough sent me a link to this amazing invention – a soccer ball that functions as a generator. Incredible – Uncharted Play: Innovate. Play. Empower. Watch the video, at least!

Giddy-up #2: Hopscotch Detroit! Thanks to a subscription to The Daily Good, I was invited into a story about a community building the largest hopscotch court in history. The goal – to encourage a city to find communion in playing with each other.

Giddy-up #3: Seeing students in Peachtree Creek. I wish I could give you a link to this one. As I was driving to work this morning, I noticed a school activity vehicle (a.k.a. “bus”) stopped near Memorial Park. It appeared that high school students were collecting water samples in Peachtree Creek. Yes! I have dreamed for a few years that more schools would engage our city creeks in such a way. I only with I knew who it was; I’d love to talk with them about what they’re trying to accomplish.

So, when I read and see these examples, I imagine a cohort of students posing questions and curiosities to a facilitator (known as a teacher in the olden days). Through expert contextual guiding, the facilitator enables the students to pursue their own passions. One group is interested in energy, and one of the team members had recently read about using a piece of playground equipment to pump water in an African village. Another team member wondered what other play things could be turned into energy generators. The soccket – or something like it – is born. In another group, the student-learners are crazed at thinking that they can turn the city streets into something like an adult playground. Perhaps they’ve watched Kiran Bir Sethi’s TED talk about teaching kids to take charge, or maybe they’ve seen the video about turning steps into piano keys. They are inspired by the Indian children’s zebra-stripping and the feet symphonies of subway exiters, and they want to go large scale to with a Hopscotch Detroit idea. And a third group feels passionate about improving the water quality of the creek that runs in front of their Atlanta homes. They decide to do something about it, and their facilitator organizes an activity vehicle to cart them to the shores of the waste-ladden waters.

Oh, the possibilities! There’s science, math, English and language arts, history, sociology, economics, psychology, anthropology, design and city planning, architecture, prototyping, community interviewing and communication, making a difference with things that matter and affecting real audiences.

It’s not 50 minutes of math, 50 minutes of science, 50 minutes of English, and homework to check and grade the next day. It’s as much transformational as informational. It’s not unstructured and loose; it’s hyper-structured and necessarily tight. It requires more of technology as field equipment than just a digital replacement for a notebook. It’s engaging and inspirational. And it’s highly and gloriously doable.

But more schools could be doing it.

Just imagine…

No, don’t stop there. Get started…

What’s your school’s pedagogical master plan? Will your students systemically have such experiences?

They could be.

5 thoughts on “Inspired by possibilities of #PBL – how are we engaging our students with problem finding and solving?

  1. Pingback: Networks, Peer Progressives, School 3.0, and Future Perfect #IDreamASchool #School3pt0 | it's about learning

  2. Pingback: Inspired by possibilities of #PBL – how are we engaging our ... | Problem-based learning |

  3. Hi! I’m Ajooni, one of the organizers of Hopscotch Detroit. What a pleasure to stumble across your post 🙂 Thanks so much for the support.

    Funnily enough, most of our team met while planning the TEDx conference at UofM. The power of hands-on learning, indeed.

    • Ajooni, thanks so much for checking-in here on this post. What a pleasure to have a Hopscotch Detroit organizer comment! I am excited about what your team is doing. If you think of something more that I can do from Atlanta, GA, please let me know.

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