This article comes from Brooke Webb, a Language Arts teacher at Lanier High School.
Project Based Learning (PBL) empowers students to take control of their own learning through self-directed research, creation, revision, and innovation. As a language arts teacher, I find that PBL lends itself very well to the high school language arts classroom as we have the choice to cover our standards via a plethora of avenues. This year, I am teaching a language arts elective class that focuses on ancient cultures’ mythology texts. Having never taught an elective class before, I decided that I would try something new in my teaching path and use only PBL projects to assess my classes’ mastery of the standards.
My classes read the novel Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of Greek Mythology by Bernard Evslin, and I wanted to plan an event to remember! My class has students in 9th-12th grade and from each of our four academies (CDAT/STEM, Multimedia and Fine Arts, Global Business and Leadership, and Life and Health Sciences) . Thus, I wanted to design a project that would allow the students to work collaboratively on a common theme yet also focused on their own academies.
I thought that doing an actual walk through museum with exhibits would be awesome and align with what I hoped to accomplish. A colleague suggested creating a Pop Up Museum, and after doing research and deciding on the standards on which to focus, I formulated an overview for students. We then used 360cities.net to view different exhibits at museums around the world.
Students were a part of two teams: a novel group and an academy group. In their novel group, students were to come up with an exhibit for their novel section (gods, demigods, nature myths, and fables) that showcased each individual’s end product and was cohesive with all other groups. Each student had an assigned role in the group. The group had two days to brainstorm and three days to create and innovate.
Formative deliverables included a brainstorming page for the first day and a floor plan of the layout of their exhibit; these were submitted to an eClass discussion forum created for each specific novel group.
Then students were regrouped by academies, and each was charged with researching some aspect of a real museum. Their task as an academy was to relate their academy focus into our museum. For example, how do real museums use multimedia? Or, how can business and leadership be applied to a museum? One Global Business & Leadership group marketed and promoted our event through social media campaigns on Twitter and Instagram while another created voting boxes to poll museum patrons on which exhibit students liked the best. The data collected (votes in the form of tickets) was then analyzed and the exhibit with the most votes got a prize.
The Multimedia, Communication & Fine Arts groups decided to write a script for a commercial to air during our school’s morning announcements—we never got to film it due to time constraints, but they did a great job! A CDAT/STEM group decided logistically the best set up/lay out for our museum, flow of traffic, and positioning of tour guides to make the event flow well and the museum reach maximum functionality. Our Life & Health Science group used the health pathway to research types of foods that ancient Greeks would have eaten and the calories for the items, and they created an ancient Greek foods menu.
Our Pop Up Museum came to life over the course of two days. During their class times, my students presented their individual displays. During Academy Time and all lunches, volunteers from my classes were tour guides and walked classmates and faculty through the museum and answered any questions while explaining certain aspects of the exhibits.
The end products produced by my students were high quality because I allowed them to create through a medium with which they were comfortable and excited about. Some students were living exhibits dressing up as their characters, some created poems that could be accessed via QR codes, some painted collages, while others used Legos to re-enact important plot points in the myth. A couple of students even crafted their own replicas of the Minotaur’s horn and Medusa’s head.
Lastly, we reflected. I gave each group time to reflect in a peer evaluation sheet that only I see so the student can give honest feedback on group members. I also tried something new: giving the class ownership of creating their own tailor-made rubric that I would use to assess their individual end products. After pulling several project rubrics off of BIE. Org, I gave the groups copies of the rubrics and we voted as a class on which features were important to keep and which to discard. I created the class’ rubric in eClass and used that to assess the end products.
This adventure to test out PBL with an elective class was successful. I have a few areas that I want to redesign for next year, but what a fun and engaging learning event for my students and for me!