Fresno PBL Training Trip: Day #3

Day 3 in Fresno was a blast! We had the pleasure of working with the incredibly fun and enthusiastic English department here at Gaston Middle. These teachers know how to entertain and get the students excited! The department is full of gusto and really reflects on the students. We couldn’t have been more eager to work with them.

The English Department was able to draw up two driving question for the PBL session. One was for the 7th grade class while the other was for designed for the 8th grade class. The 7th Grade question was an argumentative one that was created to be debated. It is the following:

Once the food from the garden has been harvested, what choice should be made between donating the food or selling the food?

The 8th grade question was centered around Public Service Announcements. The question was the following:

What are the components of a compelling public service announcement?

Both of these questions are incredibly stimulating and require a student voice. Requiring students to critically think, gather information, and debate allows them to acknowledge a differing viewpoint that they can then use to further their position or research more information. Additionally, using relevant topics such as the school garden or public service are important in facilitating student learning and professional development as well.

The question of donating or selling the food from the garden invites a variety of skills and participation on behalf of the students as they are entering multiple educational areas including business, health, and the art of debate. While students are analyzing and researching what is best about both options, they are also preparing one another for contrasting statements and questions during the debate. The feedback from the debate provides students with new ideas and variations of opinions that they can integrate into their essays.

Constructing a public service announcement is a best practice for facilitating student learning through PBL. Developing a well-articulated and researched public service announcement requires finesse and strong language skills. Moreover, the announcement must be disseminated throughout different forms of media which will encourage the students to analyze each media medium and its effectiveness. On top of the different media outlets, the PSA must have the objective of raising awareness, changing the public’s attitudes and behavior on a social issue. Students can then dissect society’s attitudes and behaviors on a variety of subjects until one is agreed upon, thus facilitating learning through collaboration.

Once an issue is selected, it is up to the students to discover the facts surrounding the issue and what their message is intended to do. The freedom to choose their topic and what kind of PSA they will present requires research on their community, parental outreach, and the use of social media for public good. As a technological platform, social media allows students to share their developed PSA and create polls to gain public opinion.

Educators of America are thrilled to see such engagement from the English department and the 7th and 8th grade classes. We are looking forward to seeing their project progress as the school year moves forward!

If you find yourself interested about PBL and how it can be applied to your English department or any educational department, please don’t hesitate to contact us! We are always looking to train and help prepare educators with PBL methods to increase student engagement and achievement.

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