Back in September, five of my teachers from different content areas attended a two-day Project Based Learning workshop hosted by the Buck Institute. Then in October, I asked them to share what they learned with a group of about 35 of their colleagues. We spent an entire day discussing their experiences and they walked us through the PBL process.
One of the teachers who was a part of the October follow up training, Physical Educaton teacher, Selene Kelley (@coachkelley31), took the new information and ran with it! She challenged her Lifetime Fitness students to create a video to educate the community about eating properly and getting enough exercise. It’s been wonderful to see her grow through this process and empower the students to make a difference. Following is the project timeline and how it has blossomed into a school beautification project (In the words of Selene Kelley):
• “January, 2011- started semester with a PBL: The problem students picked was the obesity epidemic. The solution was to make a video and put it on YouTube to educate America.
• Feb-March, 2011- Each student picked their topic and conducted in-depth research. From their research they had to come up with an AH-HA message that they wanted to stick with the viewer. They also had to find/create a graphic to match their fact. Students then broke off into committees to put the video together. The committees included: video, music, presentation and marketing of the video.
• March 24, 2011-Video was posted and students guessed how many hits we would have by May 31 to add some fun. We had praise from professionals across the country.
• After the video, the students wanted to do more to make a positive and lasting change in the school. They wanted to enhance the choices in the school’s cafeteria and were on pursuit to start a garden in an unused school courtyard. The school cafeteria was very receptive. We earned a $1000 grant from the Gahanna Jefferson Education to get us started.
• April, 2011-World renowned PE professor Dr. Ward said our video is now mandatory viewing for all the PAES majors at OSU. Joe Lamp: 2 National TV programs sent a message to my students that they did an awesome job! The local news station saw our YouTube video and wanted to come out and do a story. When they heard about our garden they were even more excited.
• May, 2011- The story aired on the news and the local marketing director for Chipotle emailed me literally 15 minutes after the story aired. They have a campaign to educate America about how they use fresh, organic produce from local farms, etc.
• May 31, 2011-Chipotle came to our school and taught our students how to make fresh guacamole. They gave every student gift cards and a free burrito. They also held a fundraiser and gave us 50% of the proceeds, which totaled over $300.
• June, 2011-The Chipotle partnership will continue for many years to come! We have also established a partnership with Piadas, fresh Italian redressing similar set up to Chipotle.
• We recently applied for a grant from the Franklin County Youth Advisory Council. We were invited to share our project with their board and we were very well received. When we left, students from around the county all said they wanted their schools to do something similar in their schools. Dr. Scarbourough, a council member, commended us on this project and told us we inspired the whole council.
• In the garden we have 2 apple trees, 2 blueberry trees, 2 raspberry trees, 1 blackberry tree, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro ( to make fresh salsa on taco day), broccoli, melon, watermelon, zucchini, basil, parsley, cabbage, cucumbers, grapes, and grape tomatoes.
• Students are meeting this summer to help harvest the fruit and vegetables. Many classes are involved and are excited about this! Many teachers are inspired to enhance the 3rd school courtyard this August.
• Students made comments like, ‘Mrs. Kelley we’re like changing the world!’ Parents made comments like, ‘thanks for teaching them about nutrition. My daughter is making better eating choices thanks to this class.’
• I had more parents contact me with praise than in my whole 10 year teaching career. This is a class that the students will always remember.”
Student choice, student voice, critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration: this project has not only benefited our school, but it has empowered many students to make a difference! Kudos to Mrs. Kelley and her students!