Sunday, February 6, 2011

How to Launch A Challenge!

The Mercy Challenge Base Learning team came back from their training in Dallas and carefully plotted a terrific project launch.  Their ambition is astonishing.  They have decided to mix three extremely different classes - Biology / French 3 / Drawing 1  - into teams to tackle the following challenge:

Use design to improve the cafeteria environment.

Susan Smith (Art) began with the terrific challenge video that she feverishly edited the weekend before launch.  It featured graphic documentary evidence of our cafeteria's present plight, but also depicted inspiring designs which teased at possibilities.  Then Carol Shea (Language) clearly explained the approach of the project.  Finally, Cathy Riley (Science) started exploring the challenge with the students.  

The entire event was documented on video.  The team intends to make its experience transparent and hopes to demonstrate the value of CBL.  By the next meeting students were already recording reflections on their iPod touches.  I truly found myself lifted by their launch.

L to R - Cathy, Carol, and Susan challenge their minions.


Kakoskela said...

After initial contact from members of this CBL team about research suggestions for students (and planned conversations with both classes)and investigation into topics relating to another team CBL at school, I am finding the definition of "expert" to be fluid and subjective. How would you and your readers clarify that quality and what parameters might be viable for student research? I have found two websites recently that, although quite different, seem to encourage the attitude that anyone with the ability to write about a topic can be considered an "expert" on that topic. The first,, seemed more vague than Wikipedia but was used by several students and cited in their history projects. The second,, though more focused on a single topic area, is rather vague also about its contributors. Employment of evaluation techniques becomes key then, which takes me back to my original question: What determines an expert?

Larry Baker said...

I think it is quite fluid. If I were looking for an expert surgeon I would certainly seek board certification as well as professional recommendations. An expert on Shakespeare, hmn . . .far more subjective as a full professorship or publication does not protect one from flapdoodle. I am a certified English teacher but my expertise on CBL is far more greatly sought after these day, but it is not credentialed. To learn about how insurance works I urge tenth graders to have a conversation with an agent rather than read a journal article written by an economist. I find Wikipedia's "expertise" sufficient when I want to research about a member of the Grateful Dead. But if I were writing a paper on Piaget to present to the Board, I would probably boast some scholarly sources. So I would say in the pursuit of knowledge, what qualifies as expertise is very fluid indeed. One size does not fit all, and the traditional size fits less often than it used to.

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