During a #Twitter Chat a few days back, a Project-Based Teacher made a very poignant response to my provocation around building more authentic community connections for learning…

I reckon you might feel the same way.

As an edu-transformer who’s already stretched pretty thin with planning, teaching, grading, personalizing, and reflecting on learning experiences, you might be asking…

Where do I find time to build authentic community connections?

My simple answer:

Start with the community you know best.

That’s exactly what 12 PBL teachers across the BeaconHouse/TNS organization did to enhance their learning experiences.

They are…

💡 Taking ES students to see High School Plays to learn components of effective play production
💡 Bringing in professional parent authors to teach students how to effectively structure their fables
💡 Taking them to the restaurant neighbouring their school to learn about meal preparation

All of these community connections are strengthening teaching and learning.

And none of them required extranuous planning and countless hours outside their teaching hours to setup; just a little imagination around how they might get students outside the four walls of their classroom.

How might you build community connections to enhance your learning experience?

Here are five ideas:

  1.  Partner with another class in the school: Connect with another class in the school to be the adjudicators, or beneficiaries of your student’s work. I witnessed this when a High School teacher I worked with had her students create story books for the younger peers downstairs.
  2. Use Professionals in your building as Mentors for student work: Are students designing marketing campaigns? Have them connect to the Communications wing of the school for support. Looking to decrease food waste? Have them work in partnership with the school cafeteria to develop simple action plans.
  3. Invite guest speakers to engage students in real world work: Say goodbye to endless frustration planning a trips 1/2 way across the city to the Museum; and instead, bring the museum curator and special experts into the classroom. That’s what one upper Elementary class accomplished when they brought in the Bug Museum curator to excite students around their project of protecting local insect habitats.
  4. Host Exhibitions in a public space outside the classroom: Putting on a class play? Have them perform in the local black box theater. Developing art pieces around social justice activism? Have students hold an art walk for peers around the campus. Both of these are REAL experiences from classroom teachers who enlarged their impact, simply by enlarging their CIRCLES.

And speaking of enlarging ‘circles.’

Here are the three simple circles to help you get started with building community connections:

Red= School Community
Blue= Local Community
Black= Global Community

The PBL teachers above are brainstorming 10 possible school, local and global community connections for their learning experiences in less than 10 minutes.

Want the template to start building yours?

Join our PBL Collab and Grab Community. 

In our PBL global community, you will gain access to more than just useful templates; but an entire community of PBL practitioners to help bring your learning experiences to life.

The community is what Brett Carrier, a year 5 PBL teacher remarked, “opened her eyes to new perspectives and pedagogies, inspiring deep thinking and reflection with every meeting.”

We meet once a month around our biggest PBL questions, and include educators who span multiple curriculums, age groups, school settings, and geographic regions to help answer them.

We would love to have your voice.

Apply to join, and share a bit of your context here – ->  PBL Collab and Grab Community.

Here’s to building more authentic community connections for your learning experiences!

Your [co] learning experience designer,