Freshmen start year off learning about PBLs Community projects in English 9

Freshmen Jan Uy and Ventsislav Yankov play Rock, Paper, Scissors during an icebreaker activity. Students in English 9 started their PBL unit with simple assignments. ""

To expand students’ skills in communication and problem solving, English 9 teachers Michael Moore and Matthew LaPorte are teaching Project-Based Learning for the first unit.

 “Right now we are focusing on how to take our classroom and turn it into a functional community,” Moore said. “So that when kids come in, they feel like they can be themselves if they have an issue they feel comfortable enough to talk to me.”

Currently, the freshmen are working on simple assignments, such as coming up with personal mantras and sharing personal interests. Assignments will gradually become more difficult over time and for the next project, students will create a music festival.

“I think our group is doing good,” freshman Sophia Cina said. “Everyone is communicating very well and you can tell all the kids want to do good on the project, and that’s something different from middle school.”

The students’ first project involves them choosing a school or outside community project that they believe would benefit that area. For instance, some students want to make a soup cart for the homeless, while others are choosing a used book drive.

“The project is pretty open-ended, and there isn’t a specific structure but there is a rubric to make sure we are doing it correctly,” freshman Ahmed Ahmed said. “Our group is just presenting the idea and the way we implement that idea into the classroom.”

Although the project is hypothetical and does not require them to put the idea into action, it is meant to help them learn about group contracts, member dismissal, dressing professionally and driving questions.

“I just want them to learn the process and to be able to see how it relates when they graduate, go to college, and get into a career situation,” Moore said. “If anything, I don’t hope that kids take away content knowledge but just expand their skill base that they can apply to their lives.”

Students have the rest of the week to finalize their projects and practice their presentations. Each group will start presenting next week.

“I just want them to learn the process and to be able to see how it relates when they graduate, go to college, and get into a career situation,” Moore said. “If anything, I don’t hope that kids take away content knowledge but just expand their skill base that they can apply to their lives.”

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