It was an important meeting, the kind where all the chairs and desks are pushed to the side. It was a meeting where I had to introduce an idea in such a way that would peak their interest, enough so that they would make it their own. By the end of that meeting it felt as if a weight had been lifted. They were inspired, I just needed to provide a bit of direction.
This classroom project had to do with a piece of riverfront property that was recently acquired by our community. How could we help to ensure that this piece would be different from the strip mall, Arby’s, and tire shop that already lined the banks of Alaska’s famous Kenai River? Initially, after many discussions my students and I worked to create a survey that was distributed randomly throughout the community. Together we worked to analyze, create a scale model, and present the results of this survey to the community in several different settings.
This web page will give you a sense of the journey my sixth grade students and I experienced as we began to address this need in our community. I have documented this journey in an attempt to share some strategies I used that opened up an opportunity for them to become invested and engaged in their own learning. For the purposes of this work, this project is divided into four stages. Each stage lists the major strategies (pedagogies) I used. In documenting this journey I also highlight a few of the key turning points in this process.
In looking for a way to have students gain a sense of ownership in their learning, I found so much more. I now see a group of students who have a continued interest in working with city planners on other issues. They are truly invested in improving the living standards in our community. Seeing the responses of community members and leaders to their hard work, they knew they had made a direct impact and this showed in their daily attitudes. This authentic, project based learning helped to inspire me as well as my students as together we looked beyond the needs to of our everyday life to become invested citizens in our own community. Through this web page, I hope to share the integral pieces of this journey.
This web page is a work in progress. I am using it as a tool to invite you into my classroom. Welcome.