Dear Parents and Guardians,
I am writing to tell you about some exciting projects we are doing in our class this year. As the new year begins, we would like to share our plan to invigorate instruction in Grade 6 English Language Art, Social Studies, and Art. The cause for this new focus arises from a wealth of research showing that students need more opportunities to develop the skills necessary to compete in today’s marketplace. Today, students need to know how to apply their knowledge to yet unknown situations. The question then becomes how do we better prepare our students for this ever changing world? This has lead us to use the teaching method of Project Based Learning or PBL, to help students learn better.
Project Based Learning is an instructional strategy that will allow students to foster critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, global perspectives, and craft study skills that will aid students in college and career. Essentially, PBL allows students to take ownership of their learning; learning becomes a student-centered learning process versus teacher-centered. The teacher serves as a facilitator of knowledge who helps students problem solve and think critically. PBL exposes students to real world problems and serves as a vehicle for students to learn course content. This real world connection helps students see the value in education and provides opportunities for them to apply what they have learned. If you are interested in learning more about PBLs, you can read more at http://bie.org/about/what_pbl.
An interactive project motivates students to gain knowledge, and they remember it longer. Projects give students the chance to apply the skills they learn in school to cross-curricular, personally relevant, and real-world situations.
Our project focus is on student engagment in school and community. In one of the PBLs, students will learn a great deal about both Canadian and Syrian culture. The Driving Question of our first project is: In 2016, Canada has welcomed over 20 000 Syrian refugees into its borders - many of them, children. How could you better prepare Syrian refugee children to adapt to rural Nova Scotian culture, and make them feel more welcome? Another PBL will have students learning about The Rights of the Child as well as the history and legacies of Canada's Residential School System. The Driving Question for this PBL is: In 1990 the United Nations created a document outlining the Rights of the Child. Canada was one of many nations to agree to this declaration, and signed it in 1991. In what ways did Canada not adhere to the Rights of the Child (specifically, the rights of Indigenous children)? How can we begin to improve the broken relationships with Canada’s Indigenous peoples? In addition to learning topics in Social Studies, students will develop their reading/viewing, speaking/listening, and writing skills which are covered in English Language Arts. Students will also learn skills in PBL such as how to think critically, solve problems, work in teams, create multi-media products, and make presentations. These skills will help students succeed in the future, both in school and in today’s work world.
The project’s Driving Question, which focuses our work, is:
Students will be involved in researching on the Internet, interviewing community members, writing a story, preparing an oral presentation and creating a video. Your child will work in a team, guided by me.
At the end of the projects, students will make presentations to the wider school community. Students will also post any videos on our class YouTube channel.
Students will be assessed individually on their content knowledge, their collaboration skills, and their presentation skills. You can access rubrics that will drive the content work, assignments, calendar (with work schedule) handouts and assignment outlines and expectations, on my website: http://gjgraves.weebly.com/ You may find these helpful in understanding what I am asking students to do, and supporting your child during the project. As parents/guardians, you can support the project by discussing the project at home, encouraging your child to think hard and ask questions about the topic.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the project.
Gina J. Graves