Posted by: darcymullin | April 12, 2011

Project Based Learning – the key to engagement


In October of this year our school participated in our annual penny drive.  This year we decided to donate the money to kiva.org .  If you don’t know about KIVA click here for more information.  In essence KIVA is a micro-lending organization that lends to small entrepreneurs that do not have the means to access traditional banks.  The loans are small and when the businesses are fully funded, they pay back their loans to KIVA and the money can be re-loaned to another business – a continuous cycle.

Once the money was collected we were going to divide it among our classes – each getting $100 to loan.  The website was not easy for our primary students to access, so I asked if my Gr. 4/5’s could lend on their behalf of the school and then create presentations to tell classes how their money was used.  Teachers fully embraced the idea.

What happened after that was awesome.  I introduced Google Docs to my class and set them to work.  I gave them a rough outline of what to present.  Reminded them that their audience was 6 years old and set them off to work.  What happened astounded me.  First, kids loved the Google Docs, it was new, and they thought it was the coolest thing ever.  Check out some of their work here and here and here.

For two weeks the kids were fully engaged and on task.  I was very busy answering questions and problem solving technology, but I never once had to get kids back on task.  Never once during the entire process did kids ask me if it was for marks, what their grade was, if it was going on their report cards.  They worked incredibly hard, practiced their presenting skills, refined and improved their projects on their own accord.  Why?  Because they wanted to.  Why did they want to?  They were engaged in their learning.  In fact, they were so engaged, they didn’t even realize they were learning.

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Responses

  1. What a fantastic project. Looks like the kids totally embraced it.

    I hadn’t heard of Kiva until a few years ago when I saw a presentation about InStill Life out of Penticton. Also a super cool project-based learning thing that they do: http://blog.oliveus.ca/news/blog/


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