2017-18 PBL Project

In our second curriculum summit, Explorers’ passion for learning about animals, and our community’s ambition for instruction rooted in civic education and government were among the topics that emerged. In addition to these ideas, a strong trend emerged for more individual expression of ideas and oratory commentary. At first these trends seemed diverse and difficult to contextualize in both problem and place. However, from these ideas we discussed a framework focused on the movement of people, places, and ideas. We decided that our next question would be the following:

  • What is connectivity?

Connectivity is defined as the state or extent of being connected or interconnected. We wanted our Explorers to study the ways that animals, government and people are connected. Explorers studied national park systems and the migratory patterns of animals moving between these park systems. They studied Banff National Park and the work of conservationists there as they designed over and underpasses for animals. They wrote letters to road ecologists asking their questions and even received answers! Different grade levels studied different species and the effects humans are having on the movement of these species. Our exhibition focused the answers to these ideas through our Explore! Ted Talks. Explorers worked in groups to create PowerPoint slides in order to share their learning with families!

After this Exploration, our second grade (founding class) Explorers began to study the question:

  • What does it mean to be a hero?

This is a unit that will repeat in 2018-19, as it also is a high-interest topic for teachers and younger grade levels.  We each have individuals who we identify as heroes. These heroes are personal and match with our highest priorities. With so many definitions of what it means to be a hero, the exploration was designed to allow Explorers to define a hero according to their own unique gifts and passions. During this unit Explorers learned about heroes in comic books and cartoons. They then learned about the heroic actions of children. Last they self-selected a problem they felt passionate about and developed a comic strip bringing their story to life. This unit danced between the lines of fantasy and reality with the goal of enticing our Explorers to believe in the unique and powerful gift they have to shape our world and our community.

Directly following this Exhibition Explorers began working to answer the question:

  • How can we promote positive change for individuals, our community, and our world?

In this project Explorers studied the importance of clean water, growing trees and reducing the use of plastics in our daily life. They examined the effects that plastic has on our rivers and local watersheds and brainstormed ways to lessen their carbon footprints creating concrete poetry examples of their work. For their final project they collectively created a website to promote more sustainable ways of living and participated in community service project for Shelby Bottoms Park.