by Brian Schoch
I am a high school business teacher with the New Albany-Plain Local School District, near Columbus, Ohio. I formerly taught high school business, marketing, and technology courses in Columbus Public Schools. I have also coached track and cross country for 15 years.
I first became involved with PBL because my students were really bored. My deep voice paired with my student’s sleepiness was a recipe for disaster, or naps, and I learned quickly in my first year of teaching that “sage on stage” was not the way for me to go. I decided to try PBL because I’d learned through PBL as a student in business school, and thought that I could re-create it in a high school classroom.
Two Favorite Projects
One of my favorite projects I call, “Are you smart enough to sell to a 3rd grader?” My business students create a $20 item targeted towards 3rd graders. They conduct focus groups with groups of 3rd graders and conduct market research to try to understand the likes and interests of their target market. Then they present their ideas to a group of about 50 third graders who vote for which product they’d most want to buy. I like the project because the third graders provide unfiltered feedback, and there is great energy in the room when my high school students meet with the younger kids.
I also do a project with my business students that we simply call, “The Tesla Project” where we’ve partnered with the Tesla store in Columbus. Tesla is such a fascinating company—the engagement factor for my students is off the charts for this project, largely because they are so intrigued by contemplating what the future may look like because of an innovative and unique company like Tesla. We have created various digital forms of communication intended to educate consumers about Tesla, electric cars, and the future of sustainable energy.
The first time we worked with third graders, we built in a question and answer session. The first group presented, and asked if there were any questions. About 45 kids raised their hands. We quickly learned that we needed to find a different way to do Q & A. We now provide 15 minutes for the third graders to walk around to each group and ask questions.
My Work With BIE
I’ve been fortunate to work with BIE for the past eight years. As a practicing teacher, I enjoy getting to work with other practicing educators. I get to reassure them that PBL is absolutely attainable. And as an added benefit, I get to hear lots and lots of great project ideas.
Life provides many ongoing and complex projects where we have lots of questions, but do not always know the right answer. It makes perfect sense to provide opportunities for our students to learn how best to navigate these projects.
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