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Let them explore, create, & investigate

February 16, 2011

Edutopia is filled with tools and ideas related to differentiation but I thought this blog by Suzie Boss was special in that it is very well written, covers a range of ages and ideas, and helps teachers think about diverse learners.

In my own books and articles I have written about PBL as an ideal way to reach and teach all. Projects not only allow students to follow some of their interests and fascinations but helps them to learn on a deeper level. Instead of reading what someone else has discovered, they can discover for themselves.

Projects also make differentiating easy as the tasks and demands can change from learner to learner. Students needing enrichment, for instance, can simply be given more complex projects. Instead of just making a short film about pollution in a nearby river, a student requiring more challenge might be taught to use a new and more sophisticated video editing software program or she might be asked to present the film to a local environmental group and get their feedback. Students with disabilities can be easily supported too. A learner with a cognitive disability might use Animoto to make her movie. With this tool, the student would not need to speak to narrate her film. Instead, she could tell the story with just a few short typed phrases. In addition, the students could study the river’s problems by not only reading materials (if possible) but by visiting the river and talking (or listening) to community members.

As you will see from Suzie’s blog, projects ideas can be as small (e.g., one hour, a few days) or as big as a multi-year investigation or invention. Project examples include solving a community problem, making a piece of public art, creating a proposal, writing a screenplay, starting a club or organization, drawing up a business plan, and designing a survey and gathering information. Explore her posts to see if you might be inspired to offer a PBL opportunity yet this year.

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