PBL Overview & Workshops
Cristin Reichmuth offers workshops to educators and administrators to instruct them how to become PBL teachers and has done so for several Bay Area school districts and San Jose State. This dynamic approach to teaching enables students to explore real-world complications and challenges. During these units, students cover up to 50 Common Core Standards as they uncover authentic realizations and answers to legitimate local to global issues.
Through PBL, students are immersed in 21st-century skills while embodying altruism, action, and becoming model global citizens. In addition, PBL creates students that are more motivated, involved, and inspired to obtain understanding of the subjects they are studying. This is when connections are made and when real learning occurs!
Some PBL's are explained below and click here for student interviews that showcase them.
Come see Stanford University and CTA's
Instructional Leadership Corp Coach, Cristin Reichmuth!
She will be presenting PBL at San Jose State University in the
Student Success Center at Sweeney Hall!
Registration has closed. Stay tuned for your next training opportunity!
"Social Justice: Be the Change!"
Essential Question: "How do social injustices affect us and how can I contribute to greater social justice?"
Motivation: In 2014, via the Umbrella movement, the people of Hong Kong protested the intrusion and force of the Chinese government on their own political process. As the people fought for their right to continue democracy, the Chinese government stood strong and prevailed. After witnessing this, it became apparent that our students should not only know about global oppression, but to appreciate and cherish the rights we have as Americans. The purpose behind the Social Justice unit is to give the learners a global and historical perspective of social injustices such as racial intolerance, censorship, stereotypes, and social needs.
Learners use rhetoric to create an authentic argument for change, develop that rhetoric into an action plan and conduct a group service project. Like other PBL's, students improve over 50 Common Core Standards of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language skills. This will be accomplished through research, book clubs, presentations, citing, and note taking which culminate in a persuasive essay explaining if it would be better to live within the totalitarian society of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, or the country they chose. The questions students For end products, click on the links below. For the overview of the PBL, click here.
Sample Persuasive Essays
"The Ability Project"
Essential Question: "What is it like in the world of a mentally or physically challenged person?"
Motivation: It was so exciting! This young girl was about to become a middle school student! It was even more inspiring because the last time she was in school was in the 4th grade just before she had a stroke that left her with many physical and mental challenges. Prior to her return, and to help her friends become aware of her challenges, an idea came to mind and that idea turned into a Project Based Learning unit called, The Ability Project. To access this PBL for free, please click here!
Students will gain greater understanding, tolerance, and empathy for those with disabilities while improving dozens of Common Core Standards of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language skills. The final writing piece will be a Compare-Contrast using the main character of any of the following books, Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry, Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, or A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass, with a person who lives with the disability they chose.
Most students will study a disability that has affected themselves or a family member which opens up dialogue and brings the family closer. For instance, one of my students told me he wanted to study breast cancer. When I asked him why, he said it was because his mother died of it. Another student became a "specialist" on the topic of Alzheimer's when her grandmother was diagnosed. Our students also become learning buddies with those in the Special Day Class which turns into a highlight of their project experience. To watch some of the presentations, click on the links below.
9/11: We Could be Heroes!"
"We are the World:
An Inconvenient Truth"
Essential Question: "How can you turn a negative into a positive?"
Motivation: When asked what happened on 9/11, only a quarter of my students knew that something bad occurred but were not sure what, while the rest did not know the day was significant. After being asked to be the keynote speaker for my graduating class of teachers because of a small PBL related to 9/11, the day has always held a sacred place in my heart. As teachers, we have the opportunity to guide our young people to realize local and global avenues for change and that they too can be heroes.
Students learn that a big part of the response to the terror attacks of 9/11 was a spirit of unity, perseverance and a resolve to overcome by fostering a spirit of community activism worldwide by celebrating heroes through poems and song. In the photo above, students created poems that were sent to firefighters of the FDNY Ladder Company 3, the station with the most casualties on 9/11. Poems were also sent to counties in California with fire devastation. For incredible lesson toolkits, please visit the 9/11 Tribute Center and 9/11 Memorial.org
Essential Question: “How can we minimize our global footprint?”
Motivation: Climate change is a quintessential public-policy issue as are the number of endangered species in the world and not only is understanding the science crucial, but so are the economics. When it comes to solutions, each of us has different ideas on what needs to be done depending on what we believe is the cause of those problems. Such ideas are based upon our limited perception of the world which is colored by our education, country of origin, and ultimately by our level of consciousness. They become beliefs that shape our experience of this world and determine our actions and eventually our destiny.
By researching an endangered species or climate change, students will further their abilities of word analysis and fluency, systematic vocabulary development, research, reading comprehension, essay writing, and presentation skills. Their findings will culminate in an explanatory essay, presentations for their classmates, and a letter to a global dignitary offering solutions to the topic they chose. This project has received accolades from leaders such as the governor of Florida, President Obama, and even the US Ambassador to Indonesia!
Then there were the student-produced Career Fairs with over 400 middle and high school students in attendance! Click here for 2016 and here for 2015! For the Project Based Learning overview, click here.
The Very First PBL
Students were well into a PBL unit on ancient Egypt when a member of the medical team alarmingly shouted, "A lung is missing!" The said lung was to go into a canopic jar and accompany “King Cluck” and “Servant Steve” into the afterlife and my 70 students voted unanimously that they would not send them without it! After fruitless searches to grocery stores and markets, a frantic call came in: “Ms. R! My dog killed a bird! Shall I bring it to school?!” The next day, an emergency meeting was held and the students rejoiced at the fact there would be a donor lung! This is just one example of how PBL can engage, enlighten, and excite students to learn and be reminisced for life.