A few days ago I called up my brother in California to find out how Evie (his daughter/ my niece) was holding up with the recent school closures.

He assured me she is doing just fine.

During ‘music class,’ she watches youtube tutorials on how to play guitar chords; and in engineering class, she is busy constructing a roller coaster that will fill half the room.

In short, she spends her whole day engaged in projects.

How do you engage and empower your students in remote learning? Do you run online classes in the same way you did at school, or are you using this time to help engage students in learning on their own? 

Here are five project-based experiences that will engage and empower your learners.

1. Community Class Cookbook (Alexa Lepp): 

Driving Question: How can cooking unite a community during social isolation?

Students interview family members and discover recipes to share in a community digital class cookbook. Students each receive a page in the book to incorporate their video, write a short family narrative, and share the recipe. The project combines math and language, and the digital books can be created using blurb, Ibook creator or other digital book makers.

2. Student ‘Newz’ Rooms: 

Driving Question: How do we use responsible media and journalism to create informed citizens? 

In this project, students create small news teams to report on world events, and break them down into student- friendly language. Students divide the roles of anchor, broadcaster, editor and journalist and share stories synchronously or asynchronously using Zoom, Google Hangouts or IMovie.

3. Model United Nations

Driving Question: How can we use the process of government to help contain the spread of coronavirus? 

In this project, students come together for a digital conference to pass joint resolutions on global issues. In the process, students learn to write formal papers, deliver speeches, and use government procedures and processes to generate solutions. Teachers can run the conference via Zoom or Google Hangouts with just their class or with classes across multiple campuses.

4. Family Heritage Podcasts (Rebecca)

Driving Question: How can digital and audio storytelling help our family’s heritage endure? 

In this project students create podcasts documenting the history, heritage and traditions of their family. They interview family members, trace genealogies and synthesize the information in a script. The professionally produced podcasts are made part of a ‘digital human’ library, available at school to celebrate the schools’ cultural diversity.

5. Youtube Tutorials

Driving Question: How do we use digital media to make learning accessible to all? 

In this project, students break down complex academic content into kid- friendly language through simple tutorials. The one catch- it has to be digital. They can create youtube videos, stop motion trailers, animated shorts, etc. The tutorials can stand alone or be combined to create class digital textbooks.

Need help starting using PBL to engage your learners? 

I am running small professional learning communities to help educators design their projects to ensure they engage and empower their learners. The PLCs consist of bi-weekly coaching calls and access to 24 short video lessons on setting up, implementing and assessing your virtual PBL experience. After reviewing the details here, email me at kylewagner@transformschool.com if you are interested in joining.

To your success with online learning this week!