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Cub Pride Article October 28, 2016:
Project Based Learning: How Can Students Be Involved in Making Decisions at CPE?
by Caitlin Holbrook
Our fourth grade class has been working on their first project-based learning unit for the past several weeks. Our project began with this driving question: “How can we be involved in making decisions at Central Park Elementary?” We brainstormed how decisions are currently made in our classroom, school, district, town, state, and country. Students came to the conclusion that in order to find out how to be more involved in the decision-making process at our campus, we needed to invite Mrs. Wallace into our classroom and ask questions.
Students generated questions for Mrs. Wallace about how she makes decisions and how they can become involved in that process. In order to become decision-makers at CPE, students realized that they needed to be outstanding citizens by showing respect, responsibility, safety, and kindness. Students have been working hard to show all of these qualities throughout the school year.
After our conversation with Mrs. Wallace, the students realized that a classroom of twenty-four children, all helping to make decisions, would be time consuming, thus making it difficult to come to agreement and to draw conclusions. Students found they needed to choose a classroom leader to be their voice with Mrs. Wallace. Before we could begin the process of choosing a classroom leader, we looked at positive leaders from our country’s past. We discussed the qualities these presidents had that made them some of our most beloved leaders. We also touched on past leaders that held office and did not uphold our country's values.
Next, we discussed how a president becomes elected. Students were introduced to the campaigning process and the jobs that are held. Each student was able to find a job that they would enjoy holding! In order to become employed by the teacher, students needed to pick two different positions for which to apply. Students could choose any of the following jobs:
◦In order to run for president, students needed to fill out an application and have a reference letter written by an adult figure in their life (parent, family friend, teacher, etc.). These students’ strengths are leadership, teamwork, respect, and responsibility.
◦Once the teacher chose the three presidential candidates, they spoke with the teacher and looked at the other applicants to choose their running mate.
◦These students will be in charge of their candidate’s campaign. These students’ strengths are responsibility, encouragement, leadership, and teamwork.
◦There will be several writers for each campaign. Students will be in charge of working with their team to create a slogan and write speeches for their candidate. These students’ strengths are writing, persuasion, creativity, and humor.
◦There will also be multiple videographers for each campaign. Students will be in charge of working with their team to help "brand" their candidate. How can we best market the candidate to our audience? These students will be responsible for creating, shooting, and editing a commercial for their candidate. These students’ strengths are creativity, acting, persuasion, and technology.
◦The multiple art directors will work closely with their team to create posters, flyers, buttons, and voting booths for their campaign. These students’ strengths are creativity, art, and persuasion.
Once all reference letters and applications were received, students were given their jobs. Their first order of business was to name their “party.” From left to right, team pictures are shown below: “Purple Nation Party,” “Rainbow Rockstars Party,” and “Blue Jays Party.”
Each party began the brainstorming process of its campaign. They discussed possible slogans, poster ideas, and commercial concepts. Their big question of focus was “How can we best brand our candidate?” Each party then made a list of materials they would need to build their campaign. After receiving these items from their teacher, parties began working on branding their candidate. Each party worked on its campaign for two weeks. On October 12th, students held their classroom debate. Each party introduced its candidate, showed its poster and commercial, and gave a speech. Then the debate began. Our principal, counselor, and instructional coaches were able to join us for our presentation. After the debate, students went to the voting booth to cast their vote for whom they would like to be their voice. The Purple Nation Party won the classroom vote. This candidate and her running mate will now be moving forward to the school-wide election.
Three fourth grade classrooms will be running against each other to win the Central Park Presidential Election. Each of these classrooms is in the process of building a campaign for its candidate! On November 1st, we will have our school-wide presentation and debate. Candidates will share their commercials and speeches, followed by the debate. The following week on Tuesday, November 8th, all Central Park Elementary students and staff will vote in the election. That afternoon the first Central Park Elementary President and Vice-President will be announced.
Once chosen, the CPE President and Vice-President will have many responsibilities. As of now, teachers and administrators are still in the brainstorming phase, but the following are some ideas being considered:
What is a Proficiency Scale?
A proficiency scale is a way for students, parents, and teachers to have a shared language to talk about learning goals.
Students and parents are able to look at a proficiency scale and determine what it is that the student is expected to learn as they work toward achieving grade level expectations.
What do the numbers mean?
3: They have got it. Students are completing work on grade level. They are showing that they have developed a mastery of the expected skills for their grade level. This is the goal for students.
2.5: Almost there. Students are completing all of the prerequisite skills on their own and have mastered some of the grade level skills.
2.0: They have got the basics. Students are able to complete all of the prerequisite skills on their own but they have not mastered any of the on grade level skills.
1.5: Starting to get the basics. Students may have learned some of the basic skills, but are still missing a few.
1.0: With guidance. Students are able to complete the basic skills with some help.
0.5: Beginning. Students need to be guided through the process of completing the prerequisite skills.
0: Not attempting. Students are not attempting the work even with assistance.
If 3.0 represents on grade-level, why does the proficiency scale have a 3.5 and 4.0?
Sometimes students will develop a deeper understanding of a skill and will be able to apply their understanding of the skills to a level beyond what is expected at their grade level. We want to ensure that in those cases students learning is able to be represented appropriately.
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Grade Levels: 3rd & 4th
Jennifer Wallace, Principal (email@example.com)
Instructional Day: 8:00 a.m. - 2:55 p.m.
Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
1010 7th Street
Monett, MO 65708