By Cesar Ramirez, Construction Trainer
When I came to YouthBuild Providence as a student, it was because I felt it was my last chance to get my GED. I was tired of working warehouse jobs and wanted something better for myself. Joining YouthBuild, I realized that it was more than just a school, we’re a family.
By Anthony Hubbard
Discourse about race dominates American life
‘Race’ is the ugly word that dominates American life in a near complete negative manner despite the fact that large portions of the country voted twice to elect an African American president. The term race forces us to confront horrid factors such as institutionalized discrimination, widespread poverty and paranoia, distrust and despair, criminal justice failings, police brutality, and widespread racial discrimination.
In the current scenario, conversations about race extend well beyond the plight of millions of blacks. It covers Latinos, Asians, Muslims, and several persecuted minorities. Open up a prominent national newspaper or switch on cable news, and you’ll find several horrific news stories that ensure that racism remains an omnipresent conversational topic and with good reason. At most schools and colleges, we fail to sensitize America’s children about race issues at an age when their minds are very vulnerable to internalizing subtle forms of racism. Successful classroom engagement is essential to reducing problems related to race in our society.
We are asking for community support to pull off this year’s Build-A-Bed event. As many non-profit organizations, we are having a tough fiscal year. However, the staff and students are committed to continuing to provide beds for children 12 and under who otherwise don’t have a bed to call their own.
BUILD-A-BED: Created in 2009 by two Kentucky AmeriCorps State programs, the on-going mission of this program is to build beds for children who do not have one. Research shows that poor or inadequate sleep adversely affects academics, behavior, and health in general. To date, YouthBuild students have built and delivered 200 beds to children under the age of 12 who have been living without a bed. Each child also receives a new mattress and a “bedtime bag” filled with new sheets, a pillow, new blanket, books, stuffed animal, toothbrush, and toothpaste.
We NEED your help to meet our goal of $5,000.00, which will cover the cost of the 85 mattresses needed for our May 21th event.
YouthBuild Providence is an AmeriCorps program that is partially funded through the Rhode Island Foundation, US Department of Labor, and Providence Public School Department.
As student-centric study modules grow popular, so do problem-based learning techniques in academic institutions. Problem-based learning module being a subset of Project-Based Learning, can help expand the thinking capabilities of students, especially their critical thinking skills while also helping them pick up useful skills and knowledge in the process. Students do not just stop at what they are being taught in a lecture format, but also question and analyze it, which can help broaden the learning capabilities beyond the confines of what a textbook has to offer. They naturally hone their analytic skills in the process, which can prove to be a valuable asset even in non-academic settings down the line. It does not come as a surprise that problem-based learning is referred to as a ‘learn to learn’ methodology, as students do not learn by rote or learn by doing, but learn so they can solve problems. This makes the learning experience both fruitful and interesting. Since they work in groups to solve the problem, it also promotes a collaborative and interactive learning experience. Let’s take a look at when and how PBL can be implemented.
How to implement PBL models
The first thing that you need to know about implementing a PBL model is that there’s more than one way to do it. For starters, you want to frame a problem that gets close to defining the type of problems that real-world professionals in the field solve on a daily basis, even if it may not be of the same level of complexity. Framing the problem is one of the most important aspects of the process, and educators can afford to get creative with the process, provided the problem is within the boundaries of question and reason. Of course the problem should be such that it has multiple answers and there are multiple ways to get to the answers. For instance, an educator teaching the concept of economics can frame a question such as- How will the upcoming budget and market situation affect your purchase? The commodity that is being purchased can be anything from real-estate assets to automobiles.
The answer itself is not as important as the thought-process, questioning and learning that occur during the process, and this is the basic premise of a problem-based learning module. Once, the problem is presented, the students can be divided into multiple groups so they can discuss the problem statement and brainstorm possible solutions. This is also when students research on the subject and exchange information with their fellow-team members, and where the actual learning occurs.
Pain points while implementing PBL techniques
No doubt, PBL techniques sound like an effective way to teach but implementing it needs quite some work on the educator’s part, as you may have already guessed. The educator needs to understand that many variables come into the picture in a PBL environment. One challenge that educators face is to ensure that the problem statement touches all the learning points that the students are expected to learn as a part of the curriculum. Also, given the time constraints and the vast curriculum, educators may find it difficult to implement a PBL technique in each and every concept that is being taught. Educators may also have difficulties framing a PBL module for certain subjects like English. Educators should evaluate if a PBL technique has more value to offer over tradition teaching style, and if it is a good fit before they decide when and where it can be implemented. The next step is to assist students while they brainstorm solutions. Educators should primarily act as mediators while implementing a PBL assignment, but they should also be able to gauge when students need a small forward nudge when they are stuck in a tricky spot. Classroom management is another pain point that PBL may present, depending on the size of the class. Many of these pain points can be addressed in secondary school programs such as those that incorporate innovation lab models.
Students get to participate in an exclusive program that goes beyond the traditional curriculum, wherein they meet professionals from the field. They work with a team to gain hands-on experience on the subject, whether it is by designing or utilizing tools to find a solution. Since the Design Studio focuses on STEM areas of learning, students have a holistic learning experience by understanding how they are interlinked with each other. This when combined with the core curriculum, can allow students to get a better grasp of the subject with real-world experience.
By Anthony L. Hubbard
As adults, we all have varying interests. Some of us like might like learning about history, while others might enjoy their fair share of sports. We also enjoy the freedom to choose what we are passionate about. We are motivated to seek out subjects that are in line with our interests and passions. If they do not sync up with our interest, we tend to give up on them, unless there is some reward for us at the end.
However, it isn’t a feature that is unique only to adults. Children also have varying interests. A good teacher tries to motivate children or students by catering to these interests. Unfortunately, the traditional education system fails at this and it is up to teachers to create a school environment that addresses these requirements. It can be done through Collaborative Lesson Planning.
What is Collaborative Lesson Planning?
Collaborative Lesson Planning helps teachers create a learning structure wherein students are encouraged to work together to solve problems or work on purpose-driven projects. Here, students are encouraged to engage in discussions with each other or even work with students from other schools. The students are individually assessed on their work and also on their performance in groups. Collaborative Lesson Planning inculcates the spirit of team work among students.
The team-driven learning environment helps students share their strengths and discover their individual weaknesses. They also develop other skills such as socialization, conflict resolution, and healthy competition.
Creating an environment of Collaborative Lesson Planning
To encourage Collaborative Lesson Planning, the school environment must be overhauled. It can be done by following these basic steps:
- Creating trust: Teachers must learn to trust each other and be willing to share their methods. It can be achieved by encouraging teachers to attend teaching sessions conducted by other teachers. It provides them an idea of what kind of dynamics they share with their students and between themselves.
- Idea sharing: Encourage teachers to generate ideas, no matter how simple they might be. Push them to come up with different methods through which learning goals can be achieved.
- Testing ideas: The effectiveness of an idea cannot be known until it is tested. Motivate teachers to test out their learning plans and also to accept feedback.
- Keep it simple: Teachers must incorporate simple ideas into their projects and tasks. Projects or tasks that are complex will only make students ask more questions, instead of arriving at solutions. It may even prevent them from learning anything.
- Involve students: Students are the obvious target audience here, so it is necessary to involve them from the beginning. Their feedback can be valuable in terms of developing a proper collaborative lesson plan.
- Use available materials: Use materials that are easily available. Do not create projects that rely much on specialized materials, as sourcing them can be a hassle. A school should have most of the necessary items available at all times.
YouthBuild Providence is in the midst of our “Summer of Service” with our AmeriCorps students. As AmeriCorps members our students are required to complete 675 hours of service as part of their AmeriCorps agreement to receive an Education Award. We are seeking small non-for-profits who can benefit from this summer program. Like us, many non-profits are feeling to stress of budget reductions but that should not effect how you program serves it’s participants. Let’s partner together to accomplish both our missions.
We are looking for projects that include
- Light painting
- Facilities clean up and maintenance
- Working with children
- other small construction related projects
If you have something that is not on the list please feel free to contact Elijah Stephenson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help us assemble beds for local children who do not have a bed to sleep in. There will also be a community party with an obstacle course, free food, music and more. All are welcome – there are jobs for volunteers of all ages. Saturday, June 6 from 12:00-4:00pm at William D’Abate Elementary School (60 Kossuth St, Providence).