The FUNd Stuff at PNA!
Social Engagement Through Project Based Learning (PBL)
Vol. 8, Issue 4
By: Kailyn Hooley
Communications & Development Support
Gold Standard PBL Model
Project Based Learning (PBL) is a very special, colorful thread that is woven into PNA's curriculum. By focusing on challenging questions that affect our world or parts of it, students are developing their global perspective and imagining the kind of communities they want to be a part of. Our mission, "...to educate independent thinkers...of integrity," is partly about establishing a foundation for students to be empathetic, reflective practitioners that are considerate of the needs of others (Social Emotional Learning). This PBL practice not only helps kids learn and enjoy learning, but it also has become a model for creating a stronger more unified community, which feels especially important during this time.
Click through to see Ms. Hitchcock's class at different stages in their "For the Birds" project!
By providing opportunities for students to look beyond the classroom, PBL weaves together academics and camaraderie. Through collaboration with their teacher, peers, working professionals, etc., kids are engaging in ways to foster connection on multiple levels. Ms. Hitchcock's second graders are currently in the middle of their "For the Birds" PBL project that includes building their own birdhouse. This week a member of the Anchorage Audubon Society came to teach the kids more about winter feeder birds in Alaska, as well as to answer any questions they had. This process provided real world relevance for learning, taught them about bird experiences during the later seasons, and was a way for students to engage with one another through inquisitive conversation.
Mr. Johnson's class working on the greenhouse!
As an outlet for experiential and interactive learning to enter the classroom or outside of it, PBL actively uses projects as the mode for teaching. By witnessing real-world impact, students receive a sense of agency and purpose. The 7th/8th grade class, under the instruction of Mr. Johnson are taking what they've learned about structures from Ms. Mariner and applying it to their PBL greenhouse project. Utilizing 21st Century skills (critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration) the kids are coming together as a team to build an incredible legacy. It will be lovely to see how this benefits our community for years to come.
"The Masks We Wear" project done by Ms. Ferry's class!
PBL in the context of COVID-19 has simply been another way for students to problem-solve and gain perspective in order to foster community. With all the restrictions on what they 'can and can't do,' kids are still finding ways to be the stewards of their own education, as well as finding creative ways to connect with their peers. To give students positive connotations of the word 'mask,' “The Masks We Wear” project completed in Ms. Ferry's class introduced them to cultural studies, as well as led to discussions around the differences between physical and figurative masks. This is just another way the kids are following the PBL model to gain perspective personally and globally.
In the end, Project Based Learning can be viewed as a multifaceted tool utilized in academics, but also in building community. It is a model that functions well in the PNA culture, where students are participating in their education in a socially engaged way. It is amazing to see that despite all the challenges we have faced this year, our youth are still finding ways to build and strengthen this community.
Thank you all for your continued support of PNA!
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Many Thanks to
John Hardwick and Ral West
As always, our continued success is shared with the people and companies that support us.
The FUNd Stuff is a bi-monthly (or so) publication from the staff, students, parents, and teachers of PNA. Want to know more about anything we've highlighted here? Get in touch! (907) 333-1080 or firstname.lastname@example.org