In an effort to implement the one to world initiative and increase both cognitive and affective student engagement, I decided to incorporate a Project Based Learning opportunity for my 9th grade Western Civilization students. Upon completing the Enlightenment standard, I asked the students to examine 14 principles that a “healthy” democracy should possess. The students were asked to evaluate the principles and justify which three they believed to be the most important. As the students were learning the principles and making their evaluations, many began commenting that “that’s not how America is.” This provided an excellent platform to launch the “problem” that would guide their project.
The following day, the students were asked the following question: of the 14 principles addressed in class the previous day which do you believe is currently threatened in the United States? The students brainstormed and were able to provide evidence to support numerous principles under attack in the United States today. The students were then posed with their task. I asked that they identify one principle that is threatened and then create a public service announcement to educate the public on the issue and make a call to action to rally community support to defend their principle. The students were provided the materials they would need in order to complete their project, the scoring criteria, as well the project expectations.
The students just concluded the project and the quality of PSA’s has surprised me as well as the students willingness to reassess to improve the quality of their finished product. I think one of the most beneficial aspects of the PBL was that it reinforced the underlying principle of SBL in that learning is a process of continual improvement. The students published their PSA’s on our classroom Edmodo site; however, in the future I think it would be beneficial to post them on a larger format that can reach a larger audience. In addition, in the future I think I will offer students the opportunity to select their own format of raising community awareness. The students could create a Twitter feed and post news stories reflecting how their selected democratic principle is under attack or perhaps create a weekly podcast analyzing events and raising awareness. You can see a few of my student’s samples below and would highly recommend implementing at least one PBL a semester.
Post by | Julie Nelson | High School Social Studies
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