Using PBL to Achieve School Recognition

  • The Challenge:
    Ready to be recognized for its environmental focus by achieving “Green Ribbon School” designation, Buena Vista Elementary wanted to hold an all-school Exhibition/open house for Earth Day that would showcase the many excellent environmental lessons students were learning. The school knew that PBL was the key to deeper student experiences, but the staff had limited training in Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). How would they efficiently train all staff in PBL, preparing them to interact with the community, highlight their exceptional work, and set themselves up to achieve the designation?

  • The Solution:
    CraftED prepared a comprehensive but manageable coaching plan for the entire teaching staff, to ensure that they would have ongoing, frequent support to get their PBL efforts off the ground. CraftED provided hands-on project coaching every quarter, helping teachers each completely design and refine to design 2 NGSS projects. Over a two year period, CraftED increased teacher exposure to PBL, providing workshops on how to design and assess projects, with additional workshops on integrating field work and exhibiting student work, to assure that they would not only be prepared for Earth Day but have a deep understanding of how to incorporate community connections to the school.

  • The Results:
    The school successfully received their Green Ribbon status! As a result of CraftED’s coaching, each teacher had two high quality NGSS projects that were used not only in the Earth Day exhibition, but as powerful and samples of the school’s accomplishments for the Green Ribbon application. The Earth Day exhibition itself was a smashing success. Parents were thrilled to witness the hard work their students had been talking about for months in action and they were impressed by the amount of real-world connections that were made for students through guest speakers and field work. In addition to achieving a long-sought designation, the school gained the renewed respect and support of its family population, and teachers broadened their professional development in permanent ways.

“Over the past two school years, Jen has provided targeted Project Based Learning support to my Transitional Kindergarten-5th grade teachers as they developed two PBL units at each grade level. Teachers were challenged to delve into their grade level standards to create unique, challenging projects that connected to our school’s environmentalism focus. The products were outstanding!

Jen also supported me as the school leader through targeted feedback regarding where my support for teachers was most needed. Our school has transformed over the past two years and Jen’s consultation was instrumental in that transformation.”

-Tina Howard, Principal, Buena Vista Elementary Carlsbad Unified School District