One (More) Teacher’s PBL Success!

10 09 2015

No doubt about it. The best part of this job is watching teachers watch their kids’ lights come on. You know that moment. That moment in their learning when you see your kids’ eyes get wide. You see their jaws drop and the breathing rates change. You know the moment I’m talking about, right? In that moment you KNOW you have them hooked, not just in the gills, but in the brain! Well my joy in this consultant gig of mine is getting to see those moments through the eyes of the teacher trying out new techniques, strategies, and ideas.


Thanks for all you have done to inspire me to move toward more PBL learning. Yesterday, we upped our game in the classroom and invited Lily Wu, news anchor from KAKE TV, to join us for our famous entrepreneur float parade. 

I took a chance and just e-mailed KAKE and asked if they could send someone out to help commentate our parade. Much to my surprise, they sent Lily Wu out. The minute I told the kids that she was coming to read the parade scripts they were writing and to help judge their floats they were full speed ahead and I never had to slow them down!  
I have had the parade for 4 years now, but adding Lily as the “audience” factor was a real difference maker! (Also, when word spread that Lily was here, 5 teachers brought their students to watch so we had an audience of about 100 kids and we streamed it live on “The Cube”!

To be quite honest, as the event was going on, my heart was beating out of my chest thinking, “Wow, 15 and 16 year old kids have written scripts for a professional anchor to read — will they be good enough?” Well, they weren’t perfect, but it was a start, and it certainly mattered that someone who does this for a living was reading their writing!
Today is our “celebration” day for all the hard we put in during the last week!
Thanks again for all you do and I will keep chugging along trying to improve my classroom with PBL!
Have a great day!
Gina Clark
Garden Plain High School
Business Instructor
Head Volleyball Coach
STUCO Sponsor
Are you kidding me? This is like chocolate to me! I can’t ever get enough!

Students and Gina Clark show the pride of their entrepreneurship work.

Students and Gina Clark show the pride of their entrepreneurship work.

But the credit goes fully to the teacher. She decided to take our #PBL training — it was not mandatory. She decided to listen, participate, and wrestle with new ideas (and she truly did). She challenged me as I challenged her and then she decided to take the leap. Did she dive into something brand new from the start? Nope, she rolled in an idea she had to enhance the work she’s already masterfully doing.

That is exactly what great veteran teachers do when they’re asked to shift their long-held beliefs. Project/Problem Based Learning isn’t just another strategy. It’s an entirely different way to think about teaching and learning. It has a lot of strategies that work in tandem for maximum effect. But to embrace it requires a veteran teacher to rethink and question from the students’ point of view. From the point of view of a students’ potential employer. From the view of lifelong results; not simply testing results.

Super kudos to Mrs. Clark and also to the Renwick USD267 leadership who decided their students deserve more — and that their teachers do too.





2 responses

16 09 2015
Joan Pauly

Gina Clark is an amazing teacher! We feel so fortunate that we have her in our school!

16 09 2015

I love it when colleagues stand up and support positive stories of colleagues!
Thanks for being that teacher, Joan! You rock too!

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