Barbara helped the Mid-Pacific Institute in Hawaii move towards a more project-based learning and inquiry driven model for their K-12 school.
The main problem is how to move the classrooms to project-based learning (PBL) and inquiry-driven. MPI is a K-12 private school with over 150 teachers where there are three separate schools: elementary, middle, and high school. Each school’s focus is different so atriculation from 5th to 6th and 8th to 9th grades is not as smooth as it could be for students. Teachers participated in multiple sessions on project-based learning, but to take it the next step and transform their classroom was another story. Traditional teaching is embedded in teacher’s repretoires, but many of the teachers want to try PBL. They just are confused and don’t know how to do it with their curriculum.
Barbara was hired to observe classrooms and design and implement a hands-on professional development day in October, 2010. Barbara worked with each principal to identify classrooms to observe and spent three days talking to teachers and students and sitting in about 30 classrooms. She put together a plan on why some teachers are ready and some are not, how to move some of the teachers that are ready, and the steps to slowly move the school to the 21st century. They have separate state-of-the-art technology labs. One recommendation is to require that each student has an internet-ready laptop or tablet. It was apparent that classrooms are isolated from one another. To move to PBL and thematic teaching, teachers need to collaborate more often.
The professional development day was designed with a team of MPI teachers. Barbara encourages schools to be actively involved in the design and implementation of projects so they own it. There were 15 teams each with a facilitator. The goal was for each of the teams to choose a topic about MPI and design a 60 second public service announcement (PSA) in one day.
Every team completed their PSA. It was an exciting day where every teacher was engaged in the learning process in the role of learners. The facilitators were amazing and modeled “guide on the side” for each of their groups the best they could as colleagues. A website was designed to host the directions and final PSAs at http://mpi-psas.my-ecoach.com. This was not the end of the move toward PBL. The school designed another professional development day in January 2011 where the teachers facilitated great discussions about PBL and reviewed books and websites on PBL.
Barbara has been hired to design and facilitate a playshop for July 18-22, 2011 where teachers from MPI and other schools in the islands will participate as learners and teachers. Information is at http://project101.ning.com.