Years of guiding students through harrowing outdoor and international locales has translated into boundary-pushing, adventurous classroom practices
I've sat through early Spring thunderstorms on high ridges in the Appalachian mountains with groups of borderline hypothermic students that made me question why I chose this line of work. But, when the sky finally opens up and the sunshine thaws the spirits of students and instructors alike, authentic empowerment and deep-seated confidence emerge. My approach in whatever educational scenario is to inspire these traits. From standing back to let students negotiate with 15 aggressive French-speaking Rwandans eager to take an American group of backpackers to their destination, to soothing student anxieties about an upcoming public presentation on their most recent project, the environment may change, but the message remains steadfast.
When the classroom finally beckoned after years in experiential education, I wondered how I might translate those awe-inspiring experiences I witnessed into a school environment. That's how I discovered Project-Based Learning. As a science teacher, I immediately began developing hands-on, rigorous units that required relentless collaboration and problem-solving. I pushed students beyond their self-limiting perceptions and heightened expectations. What's more, I delighted in the creativity it required and the deep student engagement it cultivated!
I worked for 5 years at Tri-County Early College, which is focused on Project-Based Learning and also a member of the Global Schools Alliance. My approach was as hands-on and relevant as I could muster. I integrated the North Carolina standard course of study with an unabashedly Project-Based Learning approach, wherein students learned the content through answering a relevant "Driving Question" and produced various products that were used to assess their content knowledge and 21st Century Skills. Feel free to share your ideas and feedback with me!
This website is primarily devoted to the sharing of ideas. It is the repository of all of my PBL projects for students and will hopefully inspire fellow educators as well as my students to deeply explore the fascinating micro and macro worlds around them.
In this project, students create their own organism, build models of DNA, and debate the ethical implications of genetic modification in one Project-Based Learning unit. Follow the links below for more information on each project component.
In this project, students will delve into the mysteries and intricacies of the cell. Students will create a cell model in an hour, make a cell analogy collage, visit a microbiology lab, debate the multi- vs. unicellular evolutionary strategy, and create a Podcast or Interactive Museum Exhibit as their Final Product.
In this project, students investigate the health of our local watershed, do weekly service-learning through volunteering with Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, and create a PSA to promote water quality awareness in our county.
In this project, students will explore the dangers of climate change for our biosphere and create workable solutions to present to global leaders. They will study climate change through the lenses of science, art, and activism on their path towards understanding how it may affect their futures & what they can do to help.
This project will ask students to investigate the implications of using inherited traits to place cultural value on segments of our population and thrust them into action by creating a social media campaign that will help redefine a cultural perception of a biological trait of their choice.
With an asteroid on a crash course with Earth, students will be challenged with the monumental task of creating a planet that could sustain humans. They will use Earth as their model, but will be welcome to innovate and "improve" the planetary systems that enable life.
TCEC Schoolwide Projects
explore the unknown...
I have put together many resources for students to learn in depth knowledge about every standard in the curriculum. It contains online textbooks, videos, and interactive activities to help students master content.
This spreadsheet has easy-to-read translations of each state standard and has resources that can help students master each of them. It is a work in progress, so not every standard has resources for it yet.
These are fun questions that push students to deeper levels of knowledge on any standard and can be used to demonstrate mastery.
Similar to CK12, Khan Academy has many resources to help students master content in a variety of ways.