Parents and caregivers need help in these times.
The children have been stuck at home for months. If their school was able to manage remote teaching… If their household had adequate internet access and technology… If their parents and caregivers had the time and capability to manage home learning… If they were able to work well independently… Then, students may have been able to successfully continue their education. If the work they were assigned was meaningful and engaging, they may even have enjoyed learning from home.
Those are all pretty big “ifs.”
Instead, many students may have “virtually dropped out” of school for a while. For those that hung in there, parents and caregivers may have noticed the instruction their children were getting did not engage them or teach them very much of value. And now, faced with a long summer and the likelihood that school will look very different in the fall, families are wondering how they can support children in doing more meaningful learning at home.
Think of it this way: every parent and caregiver is a homeschooler now. But it’s not an easy role to play.
At PBLWorks, we know what a big part of the solution is. Now more than ever, this is the time for Project Based Learning.
To help meet the needs of families, we’ve created a free resource.
Last week we launched a new eBook, This Teachable Moment: Engaging Our Kids in the Joy of Learning. It’s already been downloaded 3500 times from our website. It’s also available as a Kindle book on Amazon for 99 cents.
The authors are PBLWorks CEO Bob Lenz and curriculum manager Laureen Adams, and John Larmer was its editor. It features a brief overview of the what and why of PBL, followed by a set of 21 K-12 projects that can be done at home.
The 21 projects build important knowledge and skills and meet the six criteria for High Quality PBL. Importantly, young people will find them interesting, even fun. They can be done with technology or without it. And they can be done by families working together or by learners working independently with minimal supervision, depending on their age and capability.
The projects were designed by Laureen, with input from curriculum team members Sarah Field and Gina Olabuenaga, and they’re pretty cool. Each one comes with step-by-step directions, questions to guide the process, and suggestions for sharing the products students create with others.
Here’s a sampling of the projects:
- How does food connect us? Learners create a cookbook or video cooking show that includes family recipes and their origins.
- How can we use data to reduce our family’s impact on the environment? Learners analyze their family’s use of water, electricity, or gasoline and production of garbage and food waste, then create a plan for reducing it.
- How can we document our current reality with images? Learners study memoirs and documentation from past historical moments, interview people they know, and decide as photojournalists what images would best capture the experiences of their household.
- How can we demonstrate solidarity with others? Learners find out how a community in another part of the country or world is fighting an injustice, then create an action plan to help.
This week we’ve done a webinar about the eBook for parents and caregivers, who like what are they hearing.
You can watch a recording of it on our website. Here’s a sample of the comments we saw in the Zoom Chat and on Padlet:
“This eBook is an amazing jumping-off point! Thanks!”
“I need to get my kids onboard now!”
“I can’t wait to share it with other parents/friends – group project will be fun this summer.”
Teachers will also find this resource helpful. Here’s what some of them said in the webinar:
“Love these ideas and lessons to try out with my own kids this summer and being able to fine-tune them to work in the classroom.”
“These are all themes we have been discussing for the fall. I love that message.”
These are tough times, but together we can get through it.
We believe that, during this pause to hit the reset button on schooling, parents and educators will see the need for a different kind of education. They’ll see how important it is that Project Based Learning be a big part of the change. We hope this eBook contributes to that project.