SchoolArts Magazine

December 2016

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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38 DECEMBER 2016 SchoolArts E A R L Y C H I L D H O O D T he room hummed with a constant low chatter as stu- dents contemplated solutions to real-world problems. After brain- storming, students designed models of their proposed solutions. Imagination and innovation were unrestrained as students built 3D objects with mov- ing parts, swinging doors, and areas for sustainable resources. Was this a lesson found at an engi- neering school? Perhaps it was an AP course for high-school seniors? No, not even close. In actuality, this was a problem-based learning (PBL) lesson for students ages five and six. The results were wonderful as students built sustainable gardens to feed the homeless, bridges for flooding areas, and playgrounds for outer space. Problem-Based Learning In recent years, the idea of PBL has become a popular pedagogical method for teaching. PBL is a dynamic class- room approach in which students actively use driving questions to explore real-world problems and acquire deeper knowledge through constructive investigations. The teacher's role in PBL is essen- tially as facilitator, giving instruction on basic skillsets and knowledge, and encouraging students to explore and expand their ideas. In other words, students discuss issues, create ideas, and learn skillsets to communicate their ideas through construction. This is already what students do every day in an artroom, especially at the early childhood level. According to con- structivist theorists, children learn from hands-on building to understand the world around them. The Design Process Too often students are taught that there is only one correct answer and to get to that answer as quickly as possible. The five steps of the design process encourage students to dis- cover many paths to many correct answers. These steps are ask, imag- ine, plan, create, and improve. The final step, improve, is critical because it allows for students to continue the learning process after creating the end product—they learn from mistakes and make improvements. Ask the Question I began by asking students to think about some of the problems in their community. I thought they would be intimidated by such a lofty question, Too often students are taught that there is onl ne correct answer and to get to that answer as quickl s possible. Tracey Hunter-Doniger MAKING Engineers FUTURE CONTINUED ON PAGE 48.

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