Planning the changes of a unit of inquiry to a Project Based Learning approach seemed like a simple idea on paper. Unfortunately, it was not as easy as I had hoped. Schedule changes and lack of buy-in from my colleagues made the unit disjointed. 

My original plan will still be in place; however, when the grade 3 camp was changed from May to March, it disrupted the flow of the unit and caused learning experiences to be cut short or eliminated. The foundation is that students have been learning about systems in a community. This coincided with their annual overnight excursion, which involved spending 3 days camping outside a village in a part of China that is still undeveloped.  The contrast between 40-year-old Shenzhen and 400-year-old Yuankeng village is striking. This is the basis for the comparison of communities and gives them first-hand experience and knowledge of a location that is in dire need of employment and other opportunities.

The guiding intention for my original PBL unit (and all teaching in my classroom), is to promote awareness and empathy in my students so they will initiate change in the world. Although the cohesion of the original unit was lost, I am still dedicated to following through with my plan. It is important that my students understand ways in which they can make the world a better place. Unfortunately, this current UOI is drawing to a close. In order to continue my idea I have decided to use our Genius Hour time to “Make the world more awesome!” which was inspired by Kid President. 

As a way of helping students focus their thinking, I am also shifting attention to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Through research and exposure to the SDGs, students can link their awesome idea to the #worldslargestlesson and work to create a change in their lives and perhaps the lives of others. Students will use direct action, indirect action or advocacy to raise awareness about their chosen issue or goal. Using comics created by Comics Uniting Nations  as inspiration students will create infographics and comics to share their learning about ways in which they can help the community. I want to see my students be able to express themselves creatively through their comics, infographics, etc.

Click to read a comic

As the students are learning during this unit they will be sharing their knowledge and creations with our #Gridpals located in Long Island, New York. This information will be also shared through my PLN, and hopefully out into the larger world. This unit allows students to learn ways in which they can help those in need as well as using technology effectively to provide advocacy.

I realized in my initial planning I was thinking way too big and needed to focus on the school community instead. This is the same message I will emphasize to the students – change starts with small actions. Therefore, throughout this unit, they will use their research skills to find the most effective way to initiate change by starting with themselves and the school community.