Although reflection is an ongoing part of the project based learning model in our classroom, I want to take time at the end of this special Olympics project to think about the learning and teaching involved. Some reflections from my perspective:
I loved the enthusiasm! Students and teachers alike got really excited about our Olympics project. The interesting sports, inspiring athletes and accessible live coverage were a few things that seemed to really grab our attention and “hook us” on this project! Not to mention the many parents that got involved by supporting Olympics research at home, sharing conversations with students and watching Olympic events together.
Having a real audience is awesome. A big part of our project was learning about athletes and writing postcards to show our support for athletes. We had several interactions with athletes on Twitter, which was very exciting. Knowing that the postcards we were writing would actually be sent to the athletes really made our writing meaningful and important. Students thought carefully about the messages they were writing and we spent time editing and revising to make sure they’d be great!
Projects lead to problem solving. Since we like to let our students lead the way on projects, we also like to let them help solve the problems we run into. We really weren’t anticipating big issues when we started, but, as often happens, our project led us to a few problems. For one, we couldn’t find an address for the Olympic Village in Sochi as planned. It took a lot of problem solving (by teachers and students) to find an alternative option. We ended up using social media to send a picture of postcards and then mailing them to an alternate address for pickup when athletes return home.
Projects facilitate interdisciplinary learning. Once our project was launched, it was easy to bring in different subject areas. Some highlights included:
English Language Arts: reading magazine articles, reading Olympic websites, researching, writing postcard messages, composing Tweets, reading Tweets,
Math: counting and graphing medals, comparing medal counts, Olympics-themed problem solving
Science: 5 senses activity – What could we see/hear/smell/taste/feel at the Olympics?
Social Studies: cooperate and collaborate with others, gather information, interpret maps, identify our country,
Students and Teachers need time for Reflection: I also feel it is important for students to reflect on their project based learning, so I’ve developed a template to help them think about their learning experience. It is uploaded here– feel free to download it to use/modify/adapt to your needs.