Above And Beyond: Creativity Center Stage!

Created through collaboration by members of Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the talented folks at FableVision, Above & Beyond is a story about what is possible when communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity take center stage in schools and transform learning opportunities for all kids.


Essential questions: Start Students Off On A Journey

Essential questions start students off on a journey and help them develop related questions that organize and direct their search for knowledge. Project-based, constructivist learning emphasizes problem solving using the idea of an essential question as a starting point to set the stage for further questioning.

question mark

Essential questions are important because they provide a teacher with a thoughtful approach to a course or to individual units. They help the teacher understand the usefulness, the relevance, and the greater benefit of a particular topic in a course or unit. Essential questions are usually thought-provoking to students and can be used to stimulate discussion, debate, dissent, and research.

Take a real-world topic and begin an in-depth investigation. Base your question on an authentic situation or topic. What is happening in your classroom? In your community? Select a question about an issue students will believe that, by answering, they are having an impact on. Make it relevant for them. The question should be a “now” question — a question that has meaning in your students’ lives.

Read: The Question is the Answer – http://questioning.org/module/module1.html




Virtual Field Trips for Project-Based Learning

Virtual field trips are a form of project-based learning, where instruction and learning occur within the context of a challenging project. Just as workers encounter complicated tasks in the workplace, students are presented with questions and problems that act as catalysts for learning. Projects usually extend over a few classes or weeks to help students acquire new, necessary knowledge and skill sets (Thomas, 2000).

In other words, instead of working on a small project for a week, projects build upon each other and can carry over from semester to semester as they facilitate the learning. Long-term projects make it possible to personalize learning, achieve more active involvement by students in shaping their education, and enable more authentic assessment of what students have actually learned. In history and social studies, a particular interest of mine, project-based learning (PBL) engages students as historians or social scientists and stimulates them to want to know more about the events and people they investigate.

Why should teachers use virtual field trips? Virtual field trips are an inexpensive way to integrate hands-on technology into the curriculum while maintaining student interest in the unit being studied. They offer a student-centered approach to instruction and diversify the teaching methods of content area instruction.

Virtual instruction allows students to view people and places in a visually stimulating environment, which cannot be done through mere textbook reading. (Lacina, 2004)  Students bring back facts and information uncovered through their experience on their virtual adventure. Teachers can use virtual field trips not only to meet national technology standards but to combine content standards with technology standards fostering learning that results in interdisciplinary knowledge.

10 Reasons to Use Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trip Notables