Take a look at the simplest motor, children:
Now, think to yourselves (not out loud) — why does this work?
Before we just blurt out an explanation (or an uninformed guess), let’s think about what we DO know from watching this video.
(provide students time to share out loud)
And what we might need to FIND OUT before we put together a good, well-informed explanation? Where do you think we could find this information?
(again, brainstorm out loud)
Alright! Let’s get to work!
Teachers get really nervous about the the launch of a PBL unit: Do I have a great hook? Is the driving question deep enough? How do we organize the research so they’re not just Googling whatever?
I get the nervousness! If we don’t start it well, will the kids respond?
My response is to keep it as intriguing and surprising as possible, while keeping a very simple approach. Elaborate launches are “pretty” and can be effective. But I want to role model real life learning for kids and the reality is that many people look at videos like the one above and say, “Cool! I wonder why it does that?” and then they scroll on. Wouldn’t it be really cool if they took a half a moment to find out why these things happen?
I’ve shared this quick example to demonstrate that a great launch doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated. Also, what standards and skills could be practiced and honed in such a simple PBL launch? What other standards and skills could be added in with only a little more time?
- Technical or narrative writing?
- Technology integration?
- what else? There’s so much!
A friend of mine told a bunch of teachers yesterday that “rigor” isn’t about the difficulty of material — it’s how kids interact with the material — the learning that happens. I like that.
When we can, let’s help kids do more than just notice cool things that happen in the world. Help foster the curiosity and ability to find out WHY that cool thing happens and what it could mean applied elsewhere.
So what cool things are in your content that you have to teach next week? How can you grab that intriguing thing and launch greatness?