To support some of the great initiatives occurring in our equity funded public schools, the Equity and Diversity unit have been delivering professional development. These free professional development opportunities have seen teachers developing and implementing Project Based Learning (PBL) content, and sharing their experiences with their wider PBL network.
Since the May 2017 professional development workshop, many participant teachers have completed an in-class PBL program. Below teachers share the exciting and engaging ways students showcased and exhibited their major work at project completion through culminating events.
What is a culminating event?
At the end of a PBL experience, students typically demonstrate their learnings to an audience with a culminating event. Depending on the type of project, this may involve students presenting to community, producing a product, running an event or sharing a performance.
Sharing final products with an authentic audience gives students the opportunity to receive feedback, and to celebrate and reflect on what they have learnt. With the right audience, this will add authenticity to the project, increase student buy-in and pave the way for authentic assessment.
There are two key elements to an effective culminating event. Firstly, it should involve an authentic audience. Secondly, the culminating event should have students actively sharing their work and/or running the event.
Types of culminating events
There are many different shapes and forms the culminating event can take. Have a read below of a few exciting and effective in-school examples shared by teachers.
School: Oberon High School
Project: Oberon Rocks
Driving Question: What makes our local landforms so amazing?
Project description: This project involved students from year 7 working in groups to develop an information media project that promotes one of the area’s local rock formations. Students participated in an excursion to two of the locations, Jenolan Caves and Kanangra Walls, to get inspiration for the project. They then worked collaboratively to decide on which area they would focus on and the type of media they would use to present their work.
Examples of student outputs: Students produced media including websites and presentations.
Culminating event: Students exhibited their work at the local visitors’ centre and the National Parks & Wildlife Service’s office. The Mayor, General Manager and tourism staff attended the presentation as well as parents and community members.
Mark Armstrong, Technological and Applied studies (TAS) Faculty, Oberon High School. Read more about the Oberon Rocks project here.
School: Granville Boys High School
Project: F1 Race cars
Driving Question: What does it take to be first place in a Formula 1 race?
Project description: Students in their teams designed and developed a miniature F1 race car which was powered by a CO2 canister. Students worked in groups to create a team to represent a Formula 1 race team. The teams were responsible for the design, construction and branding of the team in an effort to win first place in an upcoming F1 miniature race competition.
Examples of student outputs: Miniature F1 Race car, a design portfolio, logo design and branding, and presentations.
Culminating event: Students had four successful public exhibitions in their first year of PBL to showcase their miniature F1 race cars through racing competitions. The exhibition of the teams’ final product/project involved a feedback section from engineering experts from UTS motorsport. The engineering experts discussed various ways students could improve their race cars to gain a competitive advantage.
Grant Odei, Head Teacher Technological and Applied Studies (TAS), Granville Boys High School. Read more about the F1 race cars project here.
School: Merrylands High School
Project: From Paddock to Plate
Driving Question: How do we value and respect the food that we eat?
Project description: Students worked through agriculture specific teaching regarding what the ‘paddock to plate’ concept means, and researched what fruit and vegetables grow and when. Through consultation with community groups, students built school gardens to grow their own produce. The produce was then used by students to make meals.
Examples of student outputs: School vegetable garden, meals, a portfolio.
Culminating event: Students hosted a class cook off event and prepared lunch for community members, parents, UTS staff and school staff at the school. In teams, they made meals using produce they had grown in their gardens. Each team’s meal was then rated by guests, giving the students direct feedback on their work.
Tania Safar, Head Teacher Technological and Applied Studies (TAS) and VET Coordinator, Merrylands High School. Read more about the Paddock to Plate project here.
What types of culminating events did your students take part in? How have you connected your students with authentic audiences? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
By Sarah Ellis, Student Equity Project Officer at UTS.