Having settled on a school garden as a project, I am quite optimistic about where I can go with this idea. In my vision for this project, students will start by seeing the issues that exist in our modern world of industrialized agriculture. Utilizing a film such as Food, Inc. I hope to help them see there is a problem. From there, they will learn alternatives through research and begin to design a small garden that will become part of the school. School gardens are not new, but the development of a garden seems to allow for so many learning opportunities across the field of biology. Students will learn about plant needs, photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, nutrition and more.
As far as tools go, it seems like a great opportunity for students to share what they learn with others. Development of a school garden website that can be a future resource for other class and school and some sort of multimedia project (I can see a public service announcement made by students) seem like very good, authentic forms of assessment. I am still struggling a bit on how to create an audience for the students. Ideas like fellow teachers, and students (maybe an assembly) see ok, but it keeps the work of my students within the school community. It would be nice to expand their audience beyond the school grounds. Perhaps involving parents would be a nice addition.
Is it PBL without an audience? I would have to say yes, as long as the students are motivated by the learning. However, most students need added incentive. This, in my mind, is where the audience comes in. By expanding the audience to include people outside of the students world, the motivation to do well increases. This comes not just as fear of looking foolish, though many students will see that, but as an opportunity to look great. A chance to make a difference. That is something that is different about today’s students- the work they do doesn’t just hang in hallways, it has the potential to impact society. So, while the project can carry on without an audience, clearly, students benefit from having one.