Last week I stopped in to visit Ben Jass’s Intro to Engineering class at Webster City High School. If you’ve ever wondered what I want a model classroom to look like, this was it. His students were working independently (of each other and the teacher) and collaborating with students in two other states in a design challenge through the Project Lead The Way curriculum. The student groups started by establishing team norms. Once they knew how they would work together, they dug into the work. They email, FaceTime, Skype, and use Google Apps for Education to communicate with their team members, working within a project brief to research and design a product for a “company.” They work through a decision matrix, do some time mapping, and work through a process to decide which/whose designs to use for their work. Mr. Jass realizes that not every kid will be an engineer, but says, “we want students to find out what they don’t want to do as well. [It’s not just about engineering,] it’s also about team work and collaboration.” Students will create prototypes of the finished product, showcase their final design ideas, and do a cost analysis for production.
Let’s start a list of 21st century skills for this project, shall we?
Critical Thinking? Check.
Applying Appropriate Technology? Check.
Presentation of Work? Check.
Real World Application? Check.
Student Autonomy? Check.
How about content.
NGSS-Style Journaling? I think that counts as science.
It was a great visit full of the type of teaching and learning that we hope to see in every classroom. Fortunately, since I also follow @CoachJass on Twitter, I also know that in addition to this type of work, his students are sharing their work on social media and designing websites/portfolios to showcase the work that they do in class. What an incredible opportunity for relevant, student centered, hands-on learning for kids.