How do you turn an ordinary Project-Based Learning unit into something extraordinary?
This is one driving question that I'm often exploring, as there is so much at stake for a successful learning experience that leads to academic achievement and development of global skills that are necessary to adult success. And...there is not just 1 answer.
Although, I would suggest that if the end result of a PBL unit is that students use what they learn to help or change the "world" outside of their classroom, that is a very good start. News articles can help us find ideas for inspiring students to make meaningful connections between content and the global community. Through such connections, students alongside students can develop or design meaningful ways to impact or influence others through their academic understandings.
For example, consider these articles from today's news:
Tourists despise tiny fish but anglers love them
From MI news about strange silver creatures washing up ashore of MI beaches. Where did they come from and what impact might they have on our environment and tourism?
As the debt ceiling debate continues, how does time management influence or effect our decisions, and what are effective ways to organize timelines for project efficiency? (project is a metaphor for all kinds of work and tasks)
With greater scrutiny on the press, there is much to explore from effective research practices (online and traditional), ethical practices, and truth telling. How best can we get accurate information when media sources express conflicting reports? Should ever the "end justify the means" in the workplace?
With the congressional deadline looming about the US debt ceiling, there those who speculate that the US is already negatively affected. What would happen if the US lost it's AAA credit rating, and what would it take to regain it? How could leader's convictions of beliefs be rigid and flexible?
News from the serious, to humorous, to fluff can generate ways for students to find their voice in a PBL unit. They and educators uncover connections between content and community context. I invite you to find articles and post them as used here for connections to PBL ideas.