Teacher Experience: Floral Designer Task for K-5 Students
By Darielle Timothy, K-5 Teacher at Sugarland Elementary, Sterling, Virginia.
Implementing a project-based learning curriculum that was effective for every student and customizable for teachers.
Exposing students and even teachers to project-based learning (PBL) can be intimidating. It’s a lot of work to implement and at first, can seem daunting. But we found that it works well because it puts the student at the center of their learning. Students have the opportunity to construct their learning and independently solve a problem by locating and using resources that they feel will best help them accomplish the task at hand.
Defined Learning sparked students’ interest and opened a world of potential for future careers.
I started using Defined Learning as a collaboration with another 5th-grade teacher. To start our first Defined Learning journey, we introduced the “Floral Designer – 3D Flower Model” project by walking students through the assignment and their resources to begin researching native Virginia flowers.
Following a brief mini-lesson that went over the rubric of how students would be evaluated, students started to organize their roles and get started. They chose their flower and started looking at what needed to be done to construct their project as a team. By day five of the sessions, students had used their unique engineering, team-building, and real-world learning skills to build their very own 3-D flower model.
Students enjoyed having the autonomy to construct their learning and utilize engineering practices supported by teacher facilitation when needed. Group members mentioned that they liked how the site offered them a location to focus their thinking and research as they completed the task.
The real-life and career connections are one of the many benefits we’ve realized since implementing Defined STEM. It offers our students broadened perspectives for what they can do in the world and how they can see themselves as a valuable asset to society. Their content continually reminds our students that being an effective problem-solver will benefit them greatly in the long run.
This PBL platform has provided our school with a valuable resource for implementing real-world activities more effectively and frequently throughout and across the curriculum. The company was instrumental in supporting our schools’ alignment to our science standards, which is extremely helpful in preparing students for state testing.
An added bonus is the customization feature, which allows for more effective differentiation of learning for our students who are either English-language learners or students who struggle with traditional teaching methods.