Establishing Real-World Connections in Projects (Keys to PBL Series Part 1)(Transcript)
Peggy: Usually by starting with an authentic problem in the community, or in the neighborhood, you anchor the unit with a driving question. So students are given this question, for example, "What's in our water? And how did it get there?" And then the students choose different paths to explore that question.
Sheela: Start to examine what's happening in your local community. What are some problems? What are some needs? Who are people that you can connect with, that perhaps can offer insight into a need or an opportunity? Very often when you are able to bring in a person or a group of people, or a representative to a community issue, a community need, it becomes very real for kids.
Lisa: It's knowing people. And knowing that the teachers in your building know people. So reaching out, sending out a mass email, "Hey, does anybody know in the community that works on this?" And then just being very persistent. Emailing, calling. A lot of the experts that we had only came because I wouldn't stop emailing them.
Sheela: We find that the best way is to take the kids out into the community. If that's not possible, then make an invitation to who from that organization can come into your classroom? If that's not feasible, we have done really well with using technology as a means of connecting with people who may not be able to find a way to come into the classroom, to the school or for us to get to them. So we found some powerful experiences through Skype, through email, through telephone conferences.
Peggy: Once you're aware of this type of approach to teaching, it's like you have little antenna out. And you start to look around, and you see things that could easily make a good driving question. You might see something in the newspaper. You might see something from a movie. Or you hear a conversation, and that is a great way to start a problem in your classroom. So usually these questions are really all around us, it's just kind of paying attention to the things people are talking about.