Last week PEI’s consultant Erica Baker went to Napa, California for Buck Institute for Education’s (BIE) PBL World. PEI has been working with the National Environmental Education Foundation and BIE to pilot an online course, including environmental Project-Based Learning. PEI’s Project-Based Learning Model (find a copy here), part of the North American Conservation Education Toolkit, and the BIE 8 Essential Elements are both highlighted in the Schoolyard Habitat Project of the online course. Read Erica’s reflection on her PBL World experience to learn more!
Last week, I spent four days at the first annual PBL World (Project Based Learning World) Conference in Napa, California. Wow! It was such a powerful experience to have so many (450!) dedicated and energetic educators in one place. I met people from across the country and around the world. These educators had varying levels of experience with Project Based Learning (PBL) and it was so motivational to hear their stories about how they are using PBL with their students.
The morning keynote speakers will informative and inspiring. I particularly enjoyed hearing about Sam Seidel’s experiences with young people from all walks of life. His suggestion to add Keep it Real to the Buck Institute for Education’s 8 Essential Elements of Project Based Learning really reinforces the Pacific Education Institute’s mission to train and empower teachers to involve students in real-world environmental projects here in Washington State.
I spent the bulk of the week in the Middle School PBL session with my facilitator, Andrew Miller (Ed. note: Find Andrew on twitter, @betamiller, he’s a great PBL resource!). He did a fantastic job not only informing the teachers about the process and tools they can use with students, but also modeling how to effectively utilize technology, engage participants and encourage collaboration while ensuring the authentic learning that takes place during PBL. By the end of the three day session, educators left equipped to involve their students in a meaningful PBL project.
On Friday, the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) announced the launch of PBLU – Project Based Learning University! In partnership with the National Environmental Education Foundation and BIE, the Pacific Education Institute created the Schoolyard Habitat Project for PBLU teachers who are interested in connecting their students to a real-world environmental project.
K-12 teachers can sign up at PBLU.org by choosing a project (such as the Schoolyard Habitat Project!) and then “sign up and sign in” to take five related classes – all for free! The first round of classes starts on July 30th, with a second round scheduled for October of 2012. Each 2-week class provides insight into project planning and implementation and is designed for a time commitment of 5 to 6 hours. Once all five classes have been completed, teachers then begin to implement the Capstone Project – one of which is the Schoolyard Habitat Project! Currently, the elementary version of the Schoolyard Habitat Project is available and the secondary version will be unveiled by October. (Secondary teachers can also begin taking classes in July. Sign up for the elementary project and then you can download the secondary project in October.)
Teacher participants will receive valuable materials and support as they involve their students in a project to enhance wildlife habitat on their school campus through weed removal, bird box installation or even the creation of a garden.
Please let us know if you sign up. We’d love to hear about your efforts and the results of your projects!