Magazine article Techniques

Creating a Classroom That Makes a Difference

Magazine article Techniques

Creating a Classroom That Makes a Difference

Article excerpt

MILLENNIALS ARE SOMETIMES PORTRAYED AS SELF-CENTERED youths, but research from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) painted a contrasting picture. In an April 16, 2012, press release, the BCG presented the following:

"In contrast to their reputation as a lazy, emit led generation, U.S. Millennials are actively engaged in consuming and influencing, and their habits are distinct from those of earlier generations in several important ways, according to a recent survey of 4,000 Millennials (ages 16 to 34) and 1,000 non-Millennials (ages 35 to 74) conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Barkley, and Service Management Group (SIMG)." (1)


The study went on to highlight a key finding about Millennials. According to the group's research, "They are receptive to cause marketing and are more likely to choose products whose purchase supports, a cause." (2)

With that knowledge, teachers can and should tap into that energy and commitment to a cause to create classrooms that make a difference--for themselves, for their students and fin' their community.

Project-based Learning

The Buck Institute states that with project-based learning (P1114, "... projects are carefully planned, managed and assessed to help students learn key academic content, practice 21st-century skills (such as collaboration, communication and critical thinking), and create high-quality, authentic products and presentations." (3)

They go on to state that by employing PBL in the classroom, "students gain a deeper understanding of the concepts and standards at the heart of a project ... Projects can allow students to address community issues, explore careers, interact with adult mentors, use technology and present their work to audiences beyond the classroom. PBL can motivate students who might otherwise find school boring or meaningless." (4)

In a nutshell, PBL is the perfect vehicle it creating classrooms that make a difference. It allows teachers a meaningful and rigorous format in which to teach academic and state standards. It also enables students to learn "key academic content" much more thoroughly through hands-on experiences, and these experiences can make an incredible difference for a community and take student learning to a new dimension.

Sometimes getting started is half the battle. Swanson & Cosgrave share a host of implementation tools like worksheets on their site ( to organize team projects when implementing PBL, as well as rubrics for how to access and hold accountability for each person for their workload.

"One of the keys to the success of any project is the 'scaffolding' that teachers provide for students as the project is implemented. Like real scaffolds that support people who work on building's high above the ground, 'project scaffolding' refers to the various types of support that teachers provide for students during the risky business of project work. Essentially, through scaffolding teachers provide the time, tools and training students need in order to succeed in the project, " (5) according to Swanson and Cosgrove.

Getting Started

An excellent starting point for ideas on how to create a classroom that makes a difference is to look in your community for an issue or problem that connects to your curriculum, state standards and/or common core standards. Next, think how you and your students could integrate how to solve the problem into the classroom.

There are a multitude of causes your classroom can adopt to make a difference while simultaneously incorporating PBL. …

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