Teacher Story - 5th Grade
By Jo-Ann Fox, Instructional Coach
Escondido Union School District – Escondido, CA
The first time I connected my students to the world beyond the classroom walls through live video conferencing, my students and I were hooked.
My students engaged with programmers working in Silicon Valley, professionals working in our neighborhood, and other classrooms around the world. Through every new connection made with an authentic audience beyond the classroom walls, the world of my students in Escondido expanded.
Bringing the outside world into my classroom became a personal passion of mine. So you can imagine how elated I was when the California State Parks PORTS Program asked me to author Project Based Learning units. These units connect students to rangers in four different parks along the coast of California, helping students become advocates for Marine Protected Areas.
The projects ask students to create a public service announcement to help spread the word about how we, as a community, can help save the Marine Protected Areas located in the California State Parks.
PBL experiences like these allow students to work collaboratively to solve a real world problem – while also using critical success skills such as creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.
While visiting a California State Park in person can be a challenge for many kids, these PBL experiences allowed our students to travel beyond the school walls and become stewards of our beautiful natural resources, providing equity and access for all students.