Students at The Learning Community learn all kinds of basic, foundational skills: reading, spelling, counting, arithmetic. But starting this year, students in grades K-2 are learning a new foundational skill: perseverance.
On Wednesday, April 10, second-graders in Beth Tomlinson’s Project Lead the Way classroom wrapped up their study of “The Changing Earth” by collaborating on possible solutions to help a community threatened by potential landslides. Working in teams, students selected materials that would allow water to flow down the slope with minimal erosion.
“They’re learning that not all answers have to be right or wrong,” Tomlinson said. “There’s many different ways to solve problems.”
Broadalbin-Perth introduced the PLTW “Launch” curriculum for students in grades K-2 at the start of the 2018-19 school year. PLTW is a non-profit organization that provides teachers with curricula and learning materials that help students develop such skills as problem-solving, critical and creative thinking, communication and collaboration while exploring real-world challenges in the areas of computer science, engineering and biomedical science.
So far this year, students in grades K-2 have completed units that introduce them to concepts from earth science, biology, physics, engineering, and computer programming. Students have worked in teams to design shoes for travelers to wear in extreme environments; build a device that mimics how animals disperse seeds or pollinate plants; and figure out how to keep ice pops cold during a soccer game without a cooler.
Tomlinson reports that her PLTW students demonstrate more confidence in trying new things. She says that, by participating in PLTW, students learn that making mistakes is a good thing that helps them improve on their ideas. Teachers have also been expanding on PLTW lessons in their classrooms, including reading books with their students that relate to PLTW topics.
Broadalbin-Perth is planning to expand PLTW to the intermediate and middle schools for the 2019-20 school year.