Stephanie Longshore, 2nd Grade Teacher, Breckinridge Franklin Elementary, Louisville, KY
It was my first year of teaching and I was a nervous wreck sitting at my new school’s staff retreat... Principal Cathy Bosemer asked a question that still resonates with me today: Do you want your students to remember what you teach them for 40 seconds, for 40 minutes, or 40 years?
Fast forward to the next school year and our school was introduced to Project Based Learning (PBL). It was a new approach and seemed extremely intimidating. However, as my team discussed the idea I became increasingly excited about PBL and could not wait to bring it to my classroom.
My classroom was already filled with engaging activities and cooperative learning structures, so PBL complemented what was already happening. I hoped this was a way I could introduce a real-life experience for my students, that was project based, content related, student driven, AND have an impact on my students for the next 40 years.
To begin my team looked at our common core standards for the year and we started brainstorming ideas that students get excited about. We chose the economics unit, and collectively decided that students were always enthusiastic about running a lemonade stand business. We would use this as our project’s entry event, then give students the opportunity to come up with their own business and create a business plan to provide to a bank for a loan. We also wanted our students to connect directly with this project, so we made it authentic with our driving question: How can we create a business that thrives and is useful in our community?
"The night of the exhibition was amazing. Where I teach, our school community typically does not show up for things that are after school. The exhibition was a massive exception."
We had over 400 people come to look proudly at the students’ hard work. Students were walking around with their head held high and smiling the biggest smiles. Parents were taking pictures of their children and telling them how proud they were. Teachers were able to hear students talk about their learning in a public setting.