PBL Projects & Insights

On Vacation, But...

Posted by Camille Mortimore on July 21, 2016
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Magazine RackI am abandoning my office, that annoying pile of papers, and the daily commute to head to the airport and the mountains that are calling. Fresh, crisp air, mind-expanding vistas, knee-deep wildflowers, and space to do something entirely different. I’m checking-out…body and mind on break…far from planning the next year of projects. 

I stop to buy the great New York Times Bestseller that I’ve not had time for, and…there they are! Projects. Everywhere! My mind is snagged like I’ve wandered off the trail into a bramble thicket.

  • How can action video games enhance the brain?
  • Why are kids ‘ruling’ in retail?
  • How do wildlife photographers get so close up?
  • Why are northern lights so common in Alaska and not in my state?
  • What was so great about Muhammad Ali?
  • How is paranoia reshaping our world?
  • In what ways can Star Trek teach us about science?
  • What is fermenting and why does it matter?
  • Why are diversity programs not working and what to do about it?
  • Which of 240 reasons to celebrate America now are important to me?

The glossy allure of the magazine rack holds my teacher-brain captive. I give into it and snap a photo to capture weeks of engaging project possibilities. My favorite glossy: Time Magazine, June 30, 2016, “240 Reasons to Celebrate America, Right Now.” I buy a copy and plan to craft the project plan on the plane. A good read and 1200 air miles later, here are some of my favorites.

  • Chartoon: Rock-‘n’-roll Weather Map – A chart playing with song titles and weather symbols.  

          Driving Question: “What chartoons could we create to mix-up and break-open the                               disciplines?”

  • Cranberry Capitalism – A double-page spread on worker-owned cooperatives in the US.  

           Driving Question: “How can all the workers own the company and still profit?”

  • Classics of American Childhood – Time magazine staff picks their best-loved children’s books.  

           Driving Question: “In what ways have your favorite childhood books affected who you are?”

  • An Electric Airplane – A photo tribute to new technology.  

           Driving Question: “How can a plane fly with 14 propellers and no noise?”

  • New Home for Our Missing History – National Museum of African American History and Culture.

    Driving Question: “In what ways could a museum change racial tension in America?

PBL Essentials & Active Strategies

Enough. Truly time for vacation. There will be plenty of time in September to align the learning targets, find the resources, and plan the guiding questions and tasks of these inquiries. I’ll be ready for that learning trek then.

Now? I’m off to do nothing. But I can’t help wondering… How can hikers best avoid bears?”

Time to take a break. Relax and refresh mind and spirit. Let us do the work for you. Discover project ideas wherever you go this summer. Use these 15 driving questions (plus one bonus) to engage your students in the fall. Have a great summer!