Teaching

Housing Project Razed

By Bess Keller — September 18, 2007 1 min read

In her earth and environmental science class last year, Laura O. Spencer assigned students to build model houses that could withstand the equivalent of hurricane-force winds. At the time, she was delighted with at least one product: a house so sturdy that it stood up to a leaf-blower.

But this year, she is scrapping that activity, cool as it was. “I don’t think the students got much out of it educationally,” the 31-year-old teacher said, mulling over the project. “That was a reflection of me not setting up specific learning goals.”

Laura O. Spencer chose to scrap a model-house project.

With a better grip on project-based learning, thanks to a summer workshop at her Charlotte, N.C., community of small high schools, Ms. Spencer is trying a different plan.

Unlike the hurricane-house lesson, the new project started with a serious question. It’s one that cuts across course content and takes into account the thematic focus of the school, called Global Studies and Economics at Olympic.

Known as a “driving” or “essential” question, Ms. Spencer’s query is this: How does the availability of natural resources affect the economic development of Third World countries?

The way Ms. Spencer has planned it, groups of students will tackle the answer, in parts. Students will complete individual assignments weekly, with Ms. Spencer’s expectations laid out for them in scoring guides she has devised.

See Also

Return to the main story,

No Easy Project

Later, each group will identify an economic or environmental problem in its chosen country and propose a sustainable solution to it. Finally, the groups will pitch their solutions—with visual aids—as if they were facing potential donors at a summit of the wealthy G-8 nations. Again, rubrics will be available as guides.

It’s a stretch from the hurricane houses, and the workshop leader hinted it may be too ambitious. But the project is an improvement, and the best ones are built over time.

Related Tags:

Coverage of new schooling arrangements and classroom improvement efforts is supported by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Families & the Community Webinar
Family Engagement for Student Success With Dr. Karen Mapp
Register for this free webinar to learn how to empower and engage families for student success featuring Karen L. Mapp.
Content provided by Panorama Education & PowerMyLearning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Supervising Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Weston, Florida, United States
Camelot Education
Supervising Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Alexandria, Virginia, United States
Camelot Education
Training Specialist (full time, center-based)
Alexandria, Virginia, United States
Camelot Education
Training Specialist (full time, center-based)
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
Camelot Education

Read Next

Teaching Opinion It's Like 'Teaching Two Classes at Once'
Four educators provide technical advice and instructional strategies to use when teaching the same class simultaneously online and in person.
16 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Teaching Opinion 'Hybrid Teaching Is Multitasking to the Umpteenth Degree'
Four educators offer advice to those of us who are just beginning "concurrent" teaching as we return to the physical classroom.
15 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Teaching Opinion Strategies for Teaching Students Online & Face to Face at the Same Time
Four educators share how they are teaching students simultaneously online and in the physical classroom.
17 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Teaching Opinion Remote Learning Makes Time Management Even Harder
Blaming students for bad use of time is like blaming them for poor reading, write two veteran teacher coaches.
Emily Rinkema & Stan Williams
5 min read
A person looks at a large hourglass with sand still running through it
Nadia Bormotova/iStock/Getty<br/>