Introduction

A fellow teacher and I put our education and experiences into reality, designing a project that reached students of all backgrounds and academic levels. Taking the time to collaborate, design, and develop a powerful project resulted in a powerful outcome. Ms. Slugg's childhood was riddled with opportunities to give back to others in her community. She gave a bicycle to a homeless child every year on Christmas. The project began when Ms. Slugg decided she wanted to have an impact on students, and required them to look outside of themselves. Ms. Blakley grew up overseas in Saudi Arabia and traveled frequently, giving her the opportunity to see how other people in the world live. With our experiences combined, the 7th grade students at Trask Middle School were able to learn about the spectrum of social injustices that exist throughout the world.

Problem Based Learning

Problem based learning is a task centered approach for learning. Problem based learning can also be referred to as "guided discovery learning, model-centered instruction, situated learning, case-based learning, and exploratory learning" (Merrill 2007). Task centered learning steers away from traditional teaching, and allows the teacher to take on the role of facilitator while the student is allowed to create personal and meaningful learning experiences.

Initially, students are posed a problem, or choose a problem, to analyze and provide solutions. Students are provided with a variety of resources and support that can "take the form of scaffolding, learner guidance, or coaching" (Merrill 2007). Throughout the learning experience, students collaborate with other students & teachers, as well as share information, seek solutions and understanding, and ultimately become self-directed learners.

Throughout my experience, there is not necessarily one right or wrong way to create and conduct a project. The sole purpose of this project was to grab the attention of middle school students while addressing the seventh grade curriculum and a variety of student needs. Teachers provided learner support based on the degree of need from the learner. Students were encouraged to "figure out" problems they came across by experimenting and asking questions. Overall, students and teachers were energized, and the classes have continued community service projects as a result of what they learned.