Principal Susan Truesdell promotes PBL by providing staff members with professional development on the topic. When the seventh grade social studies teachers suggest replacing a unit with this project, Ms. Truesdell recommends planning time with Kathy Kelbaugh, a BCPS STAT teacher with PBL experience.
The ultimate goal for the students is to create a proposal for an outdoor learning space on the Ridgely Middle School grounds. There are checks for understanding along the way: a persuasive writing piece that identifies the impact on student learning taking two important documents into consideration--the American Disabilities Act and BCPS policies; a budget proposal and blueprint—including an arrangement of sustainable furniture and an art component; a final presentation for a panel of experts based on ample research. Mr. Brown comments that he is quite grateful for student devices. He admits that this tool is indeed valuable on a daily basis.
Julie Lin, Erica Lee, Anning Cui, and Isabella Wan have the winning proposal based on the evaluation of the expert panel. Julie explains the project as, “easier and freer in structure allowing for more creative ideas.”
They split the roles, “When we had questions, we would text each other. After doing work on our part, we would always revise together. As a group, it’s good to look at what everyone else is doing,” Erica suggests.
Anning adds, “Working with a budget is an important life skill. We will need this skill in the future as adults.”
The teachers are thrilled with the outcome. Students certainly rise to the occasion throughout the process. “They are in the hallway calling Lowes, for instance. They interview BCPS personnel about the budget and policies. Many times all group members are working on a different task,” Ms. Strayer reflects.
Now that we have a design, it’s time to enact the plan. The Ridgely community can’t wait to see the result.