Jon's Weekly Update 10-20-17

posted Oct 23, 2017, 11:50 AM by Cynthia Friedman
Mon-Tues, Oct 30-31                      NO SCHOOL: Conferences
Sun, Nov 5, 2-3pm                          TRUE Alumni Performance: Grrrlz Rock Hop Valley
Thurs, Nov 9, 6:30-7:30pm           TRUE Alumni Performance: Grrrlz Rock McKenzie River Music
Fri, Nov 10                                       NO SCHOOL: Veteran's Day
Fri, Nov 17, 5:15-6:30pm               TRUE Alumni Performance: City of Eugene's "Light Up Downtown" Celebration
Fri Nov 17, 7pm                              TRUE ALL IN Performance, Barnes and Noble Bookfair
Fri, Dec 1, 5:40-7pm                       TRUE Alumni Performance: Grrrlz Rock Whirled Pies
Sun, Dec 10, 4:00-4:40pm              TRUE Alumni Performance, Beer Garden--Opening for 'Olekona

Dear Middle School Family,

I've mentioned before that the Humanities/Communications class is taught as a Project-based learning environment. Most of us equate "Project-based" learning with poster-boards. While putting together a poster-board can be fun and informative, they are not the cornerstone of true PBL.

Currently, we have been studying Climate Change as our over-arching topic. More specifically, our Essential Question has become: "What can we do to stop Humanity's negative impact on our natural environment?"

PBL starts with an Essential Question/Problem that requires a broad base of knowledge and skills to answer/solve. It needs to be real and it needs to be important to the students. Our students are in unanimous agreement that this is a critical problem to solve.

The reason we're in accord, is we've been consuming and discussing information about this important problem. I don't expect them to memorize facts, or names, or dates. We've been looking at a lot of information. They've been taking notes. What I've asked them to do is look for their Hook. What do they feel driven to dive deeply into. In this massive topic, what do they want to become an expert about?

My main requirement is they have to bring it home, make it relate very clearly to the Essential Question. "Why should I care?" is the question I keep asking them as they refine their projects. Penguins and polar bears are dying? So what? The glaciers are receding? Who cares? Sea levels are rising? Surf's up! 

The first task to answering the Essential Question is making the case that these are causes for worry.

In the next few weeks, the students will be developing conference presentations for a Climate Change Symposium. They're going to present their scholarly findings in small groups. Then each group is going to put their heads together to create a group presentation for the class, building the argument that Climate Change is a global crisis that requires action.

For now, we're going to be building the case, because not even our President is convinced (ask your student about their Article of this Week!). 

My hope/plan is for us to build a community event, where we screen a film, the students present their case, and have materials for takeaways, and we get a panel of real scientists together to answer questions. Woohoo!

The other essential piece of a PBL classroom, is that students are constantly practicing and developing the skills they need to complete the big tasks: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic (speaking, listening, evaluating media...). 

Good work. Real work. Meaningful work. That's what we're engaging in. It's exciting stuff. And we all have a lot to learn!

Have a great weekend.
Jon and Maizzy