Of course we did a lot of "work" too. The goal of this trip was to see how the teachers at HTe plan and implement projects as part of their Project Based Learning focus. We went to HTe Chula Vista for this experience. We were greeted with the cutest tour guides to start with...4th graders!
After our tour we were encouraged to walk into classrooms and visit with students, look at student work and observe. The students are used to having visitors and were eager to share their learning and their school with us!
In addition to the teaching and purposeful planning for learning, what struck me was the purposeful design of the school, playground and classrooms. Every inch of the school belonged to the students. There were not areas of the playground where students were not allowed to be. I kept thinking of how when you have a 2 year old, you "toddler proof" your house. Instead of constantly saying "no" your child has a safe home. The same is true at HTe. The classroom design is purposeful, as well. In order to provide teachers with storage options, every classroom has a built in loft for students to read on! Under the loft is storage for teacher supplies and units.
Every classroom has at least 7 of these cubbies to build a library. The classroom libraries are organized purposely so students have easy access to the books they want!
Now, back to this post title! Validated! Why? Because my wonderful colleagues and myself realized that we are already teaching this way! We just need to tweak a few things to truly call what we do PBL. How awesome is that?! We had great conversations with teachers and instead of just receiving all their insights, we exchanged ideas and shared insights.
It was a great experience and valuable professional development. I've got a lot of ideas swirling around in my head and can't wait to get back to my classroom!