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  • Writer's pictureBethPollak

Take social studies out of the textbooks.

Problem-based learning invites students to tackle a problem that doesn't have an obvious path to a solution. It requires inquiry, research, teamwork and reflection.

For teachers, this means giving assignments that address real-world problems, past or present. ​

In recent years, I designed problem-based units for 5th/6th grade Humanities Classes.

For example, in Ancient Egypt studies, one history problem was: How might we re-create an Ancient Egyptian festival?

Students began by discussing three questions:

  • What do we already know about this?

  • What do we need to know?

  • What do we need to do?

Students worked in groups to brainstorm, set goals, and assign research and action tasks.

As their teacher, I helped by:

  • Steering students to age-appropriate resources (books, websites, video clips).

  • Creating a routine for daily check-ins about research, questions and next steps.

  • Providing methods for students to document their thinking and creations.

This learning process echoed modern project management teams and taught students to work collaboratively towards solutions. Students mastered skills and content goals while leading an immersive, inquiry-driven project.

Plus, it was fun!

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