MAVS Monday Memo

February 15-19

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FULL S.T.E.A.M. Ahead with PBL!!!

Enjoy this article and video from Edutopia! Wonderful examples with clearly outlined steps of how to create authentic learning with our targeted learning goals through PBL incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math

Teacher to Teacher...PBL

The following is an excerpt from a post in Edutopia and book; DIY Project Based Learning for ELA and History by Heather Wolpert-Gawron. I have ordered a paperback copy of the book. When it arrives, I'll let you know if you want to come by and check it out or borrow it. Tricia

You can follow Heather on Twitter: @tweenteacher

Or her blog at:

When someone asks? What is Project Based Learning?

PBL is the ongoing act of learning about different subjects simultaneously. This is achieved by guiding students to identify, through research, a real-world problem (local to global) developing its solution using evidence to support the claim, and presenting the solution through a multimedia approach based in a set of 21st-century tools.

Kids show what they learn as they journey through the unit, interact with its lessons, collaborate with each other, and assess themselves and each other. They don't just take a test or produce a product at the end to show their learning.

PBL Creates a Learning Story

Nevertheless, it took me awhile to tease myself away from the daily drudgery of teaching with disconnected lessons. You know what I mean. I'm talking about the daily lessons that might teach a skill, and perhaps that skill fits within a unit based on a topic or a theme, but each lesson works independently and can function without being embraced in a unit that connects them all in a learning story.

But I grew bored, and I was concerned that my students would, too.

Teaching with PBL is the difference between the atmosphere at Disneyland and the atmosphere at a Six Flags resort. No offense to Six Flags, I love a great roller coaster, but their décor needs some serious work. At Disneyland, you are submerged in the story of each ride from the time you enter the line. The walls, the ceiling, the ground on which you tread as you advance to the actual ride, all support the end result.

Teaching with PBL is much the same way. It couches lessons in a tale -- a tale about a problem that must be solved or an activity that must be developed. The learning happens along the way towards the presentation of the solution.

After all, using PBL isn't about writing a state report. It's about using what you know about the state you study and then creating your own state. It isn't about building a replica of the Washington Monument. It's about researching someone to honor, designing your own monument, and persuasively pitching a committee to build it.

Project-based learning typically is grounded in the following elements:

  • Role-playing
  • Real-world scenarios
  • Blended writing genres
  • Multiple reading genres
  • Authentic assessments
  • Authentic audiences
  • Real-world expertise brought into the classroom
  • Units that assess multiple skills
  • Units that require research and comprehension of multiple subjects
  • Student choice
  • Collaboration
  • Multiple methods of communication (writing, oral speaking, visual presentations, publishing, etc.)

(Brief note here: Don't panic. You don't need every single one of these elements to call your unit PBL. These are elements to strive for, not to kill yourself to achieve.)

Allow me to personify for a moment: PBL cares about our mission to educate all. PBL never forgets that one of our main jobs is to prepare students for the predicted future. PBL knows that students are not standardized, they don't learn in a standardized way, and that our clientele can't be assessed in a standardized manner if we are looking to foster innovation. PBL keeps its eye on the ball no matter the trendy standard or curriculum package du jour.

PBL doesn't ask you to replace your content. It asks that you create a vehicle in which to communicate your content. If PBL is a play, then the math or science or history or writing -- or whatever you teach -- make up the scenes that propel each act toward the final curtain call.

The learning story that you and your students create together makes up the overall PBL unit. Be prepared, however. You'll plan and frontload tons, but once you jump in, you'll discover that when you hand over the writing of the learning story to your kids, they will take it far and above any book you've ever read.

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A special note of congratulations to Kristin Glasscock and Deanna Lowenthal for being recognized as Mathews PTA Lifetime Recipients for the 2015-2016 school year. These two wonderful members of our Mathew's team will be recognized Thursday evening at the district-wide PTA Lifetime Recipients Banquet! We celebrate with Kristin and Deanna this recognition!

Thank you...Thank you...Thank you...

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Thank you to Mary Alice and Jayme for a wonderful TELPAS Prep Meeting! Informative & Yummy!

Thank you to Mary Alice for our STAAR Security Training...It is a dirty job and someone has to do it! Thank you to everyone who attended who provided a supportive audience for this training.

Thank you to Rick for taking care of securing our Daycare Pick-Up spots on Friday afternoon from Moms and Dads eager to join their children for their parties!

Thank you to the entire faculty and staff for making our Valentine's Day parties go without a hitch!

Thank you to Stacey for show-casing our awesome Maker-Space to Barksdale and for hosting an incredible Bluebonnet Party!

This week at Mathews....

2/15 MONDAY:

Professional Development Day! 8:00 a.m. at Skaggs!

Agenda Link:



AMC 10-12

Open Speed Stack practice in the Gym


Grade 4 Speed Stack practice in C105

PTA Lifetime Member Banquet

2/19 FRIDAY:

Grade 1: Field Trip: Science Learning Center

Password: SpringBreak2016