Julia: So how can we improve it so that it's clear that there's more than one thing?
Quimiah: You could just go to the tab that says that category.
Student: The cats, some cats are what makes the ecosystem healthy.
Julia: Awesome ideas. We're going to share with--
Jessica: Because our students solve real-world problems, they see themselves as important, thoughtful people who are able to grapple with really tough problems and to make decisions that have meaning.
Jeff: Our school is a preschool through eighth-grade public charter school in Washington. Our mission is really to help all students develop a lifelong love of learning.
Teacher: So keep cutting.
Jessica: Problem-based learning is at the heart of what we do. We think that learning is really important, but it's for a purpose, and that purpose for our kids is to solve some kind of problem that's important to them and to their lives.
Anne: What was the problem we're trying to solve?
Student: People think that spiders are disgusting and gross.
Anne: Yeah, and one of the stories that we read about spiders, how are the spiders portrayed, Jonas?
Jonas: In a horrible way.
People think that spiders are like scary or dangerous, and actually they're not.
Anne: We've been working on our spider stories for quite a while because they are the way that we're solving our problem.
Why write stories?
Student: It changes people mind.
Anne: And what else can it change?
Student: Their heart.
Anne: Their heart.
Every student studied their own spider. They did research on all of the attributes of that spider. Then they had to take those facts and create a story around them.
Sofia: The spider I've been researching is the broad-faced sac spider. My story is about this little spider trying to find a home, and other problems it gets through to find the perfect place to live.
Student: It's a daddy long legs.
Jonas: This writing project is actually helping us learn how to write better because you can look back at your research and then you can know like, the facts.
Anne: He dove to eat the spider.
What I hope that I'm building are like, tiny problem solvers.
Student: There was a spitting spider.
Anne: It's a really appropriate way for them to practice those lifelong skills.
Student: The bird didn't see him, so he went past. The end.
Jeff: When I think about how to identify a quality problem, I think about what is the authentic context that I can situate that problem within? Our school is called Two Rivers, and one of those two rivers is the Anacostia that is not swimmable or fishable.
Julia: Our website needs to teach kids all about the river ecosystem. Both its problems and how we can make it healthy again.
Jeff: So they're creating a website.
Julia: So start to think about this third question. What changes can we make to improve?
Quimiah: We get to teach kids about the Anacostia and what makes the ecosystem healthy.
Julia: Partnering with the Anacostia Watershed Society is giving kids the idea that this is a real-world connection.
Ariel: We worked with Two Rivers. The students are really taking part in an authentic restoration project.
Bryn: I like that a topic isn't taught to you. You have to like, figure stuff out. We go on field studies so we can see what it actually looks like.
Solutions like rain barrels, wetland plants.
Ariel: It's not like we're looking at, you know, what's happening with the rainforest. Everything that they do every day is impacting the water.
Student: Zoom in, zoom in.
Ariel: It's much more powerful for them to be involved in something that's part of their own community.
Jeff: As kids move through our school, they all are working within these problems.
Anne: Did it make you like the spiders a little more?
Jeff: Our youngest kids are working on projects that speak to things in their immediate environment.
Jeff: But as kids move forward in class, they work with more philosophical kinds of problems outside of their direct community.
Teacher: Is your conclusion covering a variety of stances on gene editing?
Jessica: So what we want kids to be able to do is getting in the practice of weighing information, of grappling with really difficult things that don't have clear answers. Considering different points of view, considering different points of data, asking for expert opinions and ultimately coming up with a solution. Those are things we all do every day in our lives, and they make our work better, so we want kids to be able to do that.
Student: Hold up, guys, we have a Twitter and Facebook and YouTube.