George Lucas Educational Foundation Celebrating our 25th Anniversary!

PBL Camp Warm-up

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PBL Camp doesn't officially start until Monday, July 12, but here's a suggestion for anyone who's eager to do something now to warm up your thinking about the oil spill and where it might lead as a classroom project. Teachers Teaching Teachers, a weekly webcast, has been focusing summer discussions on the spill. Two archived shows are well worth a listen. --June 6 show features Diana Laufenberg from Science Leadership Academy, a PBL high school in Philadelphia. She argues that educators can't afford to not deal with the spill as a classroom topic. Listen here: --June 16 show features three teachers from Louisiana, along with other educators from across the country. The message from Gulf teachers is profound and heartbreaking, as they explain that children are losing "memories they haven't made yet." Many Gulf teachers are looking for ways to have their students share firsthand reports with peers from across the country. Listen here: I'm happy to report that Paul Allison, host of Teachers Teaching Teachers, will be participating in PBL Camp. We'll be finding more ways to connect once camp gets going. If you're signed up for camp, you'll be receiving an email with more details this week. Look forward to connecting soon! ~Suzie

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Mike Underwood's picture
Mike Underwood
EL Charter school Business teacher in Kenosha, Wisconsin

I just signed up for this community and was wondering if the camp sign up has already closed.

Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation

Hi Mike - Thanks for your interest -- unfortunately the camp is full for participants. You will be able to read along in the community here. We'll also post archives and results once it's over. If you'd like to be added to our mailing list to be notified of future camps, you can do that here:

Mary Ball's picture
Mary Ball
Environmental Educator from East Tennessee

I am "coming from" over 20 years experience as an environmental educator and the Teachers Teaching Teachers audios made me think about two resources other folks might find helpful. First, because the Gulf Oil Spill is indeed a tragedy, I urge folks to read David Sobel's writings on Place-Based Education. In the book Beyond Ecophobia, he suggests, "No (environmental) tragedies before fourth grade." In the book Childhood and Nature, he presents evidence that early exposure to environmental tragedies can actually have undesired outcomes as kids grow up, and gives suggestions on how to address environmental issues in age-appropriate ways. I'd also suggest that folks read the section on Social Trade-offs in Chapter 7 of the book Benchmarks for Science Literacy, available online at

Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation

This is an interesting point and makes a lot of sense. I would trust each teacher to make the right decision for his or her students. If the spill is the wrong topic, then by all means, don't use it. It was just a guiding idea for the camp. Those teachers who wish to use another topic for their project should feel free to come up with another one.

Cynthia LaPier's picture

I am experimenting with WallWisher - how do i get the words from the stickies into a Wordle? I know how to create a Wordle from a regular text doc.

That has so much potential! I can imagine the kids brainstorming and then analyzing their ideas with both tools.

Betty Ray's picture
Betty Ray
Director of Programming and Innovation

Hi Cynthia - Seeing the Wordle was really powerful wasn't it?? You can do that yourself by going to, click on CREATE and then in the second text field, entering the URL you'd like to create the Wordle of.

So in this case, you'll want to enter

Let us know if that works. 


Cynthia LaPier's picture

Well if I had gone to the Wordle site - I could have seen that!!! I have always ignored that URL option.  This is just the coolest thing ever. I am gong to ask teachers to think about creating a lesson where everyone brainstorms something and then put the storms in Wordle to see if there are commonalities - why, why not, what does it mean?

Thank you so much!


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