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PROJECT-BASED LEARNING

Students in Physics class create tiny houses, power them with sunlight and measure heat efficiency.

CREATING LIFE-LONG LEARNERS

Students want school to prepare them for life. They want to learn things they don’t know. They want to be able to think for themselves, make good decisions, and understand how to make good choices. They want school to be relevant, engaging, future-based, project based. They want us to deliver on the promise that 12 years in school has prepared them to make their way forward, further their studies, and shape the life they’ve imagined.

 

In 2020, BGA entered into its first strategic planning process, which  presented the school with an opportunity to assess our programming, policies, and procedures; to explore pathways for improving upon our practice; and to improve the engagement and support strategies that guide that process. Our strategic plan was created to guide the work of the school beyond the daily mission of teaching and supporting our students, to deepen their engagement with learning, to become self-motivated and confident learners, and to be challenged by high expectations.

 

In order to strengthen student learning and outcomes, we developed these objectives:

 

  • Improving student success in all classes by increasing depth-of-knowledge and prioritizing culturally responsive and sustainability learning practices

  • Narrowing  opportunity and access gaps for all students

  • Increasing the number and percentage of students who are academically successful

 

We also know that students need to be fully engaged in their classes in order to learn—or even in order to care about learning. The only road to this goal is to make learning come alive by promoting a culture of learning that embraces collaboration, project-based learning, and critical and creative thinking as crucial components of achievement.

Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. Students work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating a public product or presentation for a real audience.

As a result, students develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills. Project Based Learning unleashes a contagious, creative energy among students and teachers.

Topics that the 6th and 7th grade classes want their Superhero to address:

 

Domestic Violence

Murder

Gun Violence

Drugs

Climate Change

Racial Injustice

Mental Health and Teen Suicide

Sexual Harassment

Poverty

Animal Cruelty

Project Example:
Create the Superhero we need today

1. 6th and 7th grade Students read Miles Morales: Spiderman. What are his strengths and challenges--both as Spiderman and as Miles? How did he gain his superpowers? How does he use them? How does he deal with the weight of his new obligations?

2. Students meet by Zoom with a member of the DC Universe. He explains to the students that DC is looking for a superhero for today--and that it is up to them to create a new icon, with a goal of pitching their hero to the DC team.

3. Students think about social issues that are important to them and team up with classmates in small groups. The groups research their areas of interest and discuss how they would make change to address these areas of need.

4. Each group works to determine their hero's superpowers as relevant to their cause and creates a presentation that includes their hero's backstory and superpowers relative to specific areas of need. 

5. Each student creates a costume for their superhero, identifying the gadgets that help them fight a particular injustice. The group combines the best elements of all three costumes and creates the final drawing.

6. The DC representative convenes a pitch session over Zoom and each group presents their superhero for consideration.

And the Superhero for Today is.... The Green Hand

The Green Hand fights climate change with his breath & and his green thumb!

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My Super Hero's name is Jayson. To the rest of the world, Jayson is an NBA star playing for the Detroit pistons. Only a select few of his close friends know that Jayson is secretly “The Green Hand”. On the court, Jayson uses his skills to beat his rival basketball teams. During his private life though, Jayson’s enemy is air pollution, waste, and the loss of our forests. “The Green Hand” has a few cool superpowers: super strength, a green thumb, and super breath which cleans polluted air.

Climate Change is one of the deadliest threats that will kill off the entire human race and animals within the next hundred years. We are losing 1.2 trillion tons of ice from the polar caps each year which raises the sea level 21 percent. Cities will be submerged in Ocean water, animals will drown and die because they lost their habitats. Things that contribute to climate change are air pollution, human trash and litter, and the loss of forests around the world. “The Green Hand” is here to help save our world from climate change! With his super strength, he can move the mountains of trash flooding our world. With his green thumb, he can plant forests which will help the world have cleaner air. One of his most impressive powers though, is his super breath! He can take polluted air and clean it and save the ozone layer.

When Jayson was a child he was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He saw his city and other cities in Michigan suffering from pollution and litter. Jayson saw that this was leading to bigger problems like climate change and started trying to get other people to see what they were doing wrong. Most people didn’t want to listen and made fun of him because he cared about the environment. Jayson decided to take matters into his own hands, he was filming a documentary at a power plant late at night, when he fell into a pile of hazardous waste! That’s when he became “The Green Hand” and got his super powers.

The Green Hand is on an important mission to save the world from climate change. This is the most dangerous threat to all of life on Earth. He has been helping clean up the Earth, but he needs our help to save our planet from climate change. Without “The Green Hand”, most people would still think that saving the Earth is for nerds and tree huggers. Jayson makes a difference in the world both on the court, and in his superhero cape. I can be like Jayson by playing basketball in the NBA, and helping the fight against climate change. “The Green Hand” is hands down the best superhero ever.

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