by Lacrecia Terrance
I have been in the education field for sixteen years serving in many capacities, classroom teacher, lead teacher, Dean of Students, math coordinator, district curriculum coordinator, district curriculum specialist, district STEM coordinator, district Title I Coordinator and currently independent STEM/ Innovation Coach. In all of those positions Project Based Learning found its place to inspire, motivate, change, and impact student lives by offering them a hands on approach in education.
Wanting to excel further and extend student my educational studies through Project Based Learning, I implemented and launched a Cyber Engineering Academy. Through research and curriculum development I was able to partner with businesses and local nonprofits to create authentic projects that aligned with math and engineering standards. This is my vision -- to continue to create similar pathways that would allow Project Based Learning to become a way of learning for students.
As an innovative teacher who wanted students to think beyond the learning in the classroom, I began to search for project ideas that would leave a lasting impact upon student learning. As students became more engaged and achievement increased, I was inspired to began using Project Based Learning protocols and planning as a way
of teaching. I began to see student interest, engagement, responsibility become so personal, that it began to change lives.
One of my favorite projects
I like this math/science project for 8th-9th graders. The driving question was, “How can building a solar power community impact the economy/environment of our city?” The major products students completed were to make a blueprint (at the midpoint of the project), then build a model of a solar house and write a proposal for a solar powered community. Students presented their work to an audience composed of architects, contractors, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, plus parents and school staff.
A “fail forward” moment
One time when a project did not go right was my first year of using Project Based Learning and I had to learn to trust the process. The students were not understanding how to do quality and authentic research, they were falling behind, and I just knew that our final product was going to be a disaster. I did not trust the process, there were parts that I skipped, and I did not have a clear time-line, among other things. I learned a lesson about trusting the process, because it was easy to quickly default back to what was most comfortable. Through not giving up, I learned how to plan correctly and learned how to support my students along the way using PBL planning tools. We both were on our way to creating quality products.
My work with BIE
Having implemented Project Based Learning at every level (teacher, administrator, and district), and it’s an honor now to be a BIE National Faculty member. Facilitating PBL 101 workshops to professionals who are where I have been increases my passion for guiding them in their use of PBL. I can offer continued support to close the gaps of being in and out of the classroom. In PBL everyone plays a role, and I have those experiences to walk them through the rough spots and proud moments.
As educators our goal is to create a world of thinkers, collaborative team players, and innovators for the 21st century. To do this I have to model, guide, teach, and facilitate those actions to our scholars. Project Based Learning has opened the door of success, taking down the walls and reaching out to exploration to help us reach that goal.
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