My Example: See the Slide Notes for brief descriptions.
The Selfie Mini-Project is something that we did the first week of school in my 6th grade math classroom. I shared a template in Google Slides with each student through Classroom. I introduce it with the Driving Question: Who am I? I quickly show students the instructions on Slide 2 that tell them what topics to include on each of their 4 slides. The instructions are also listed in the slide notes for an easy reminder.
I then spent 1-2 minutes on Need to Know Questions, and students went to work. I did not teach students how to edit slides. They either already knew or other students helped them out. I did work the room facilitating where needed, but most of the students did not need assistance.
Students enjoyed finding photos of themselves and their families. I gave them overnight to complete it so that they could access pictures at home. It took a day or two for students to create their slides and then a couple of days of sharing out to the class.
Some were obviously nervous but everyone explained their slides to the class without resistance. We all learned a ton about each other. They had pets from cats, dogs, turtles, and guinea pigs to horses, cows, chickens, pigs, and even skunks. Students talked about their families, hobbies, sports, arts, and other activities that they were passionate about.
I also asked students to share how they feel about math. It was important to me to have them share honestly about the subject without judgement. Responses ran the gamut from love to “meh” to hate. Not surprisingly students who said that they were not good at math didn’t like it, and those who found math easy liked it. I too am not very fond of things that I don’t excel at.
This mini-project set the tone to start the year. It demonstrated that I cared about students as a whole. Students practiced Self-Awareness of what makes them who they are. Some kids demonstrated confidence in math and others were hopeful to do better this year.
To be clear, this was not PBL, but a miniature project to introduce them to the structure of PBL (Driving Question, Need to Knows, creation of an artifact, and sharing it in a simple presentation). It did a nice job of acquainting students with some of the lingo and protocols of PBL without overwhelming them with content.
Students enjoyed the Selfie Mini-Project, and it set a positive tone to start the year. Even students who say they don’t like math, started off with a good attitude and were willing to work hard to improve.
But I really didn’t understand the full impact of this activity until parent-teacher conferences last week. Numerous parents thanked me for their student’s progress and attitude toward math this year. They shared about previous struggles in elementary math and how their child was gaining confidence this year. Several of the parents specifically named the Selfie Activity as something that their student enjoyed and helped them start the year off on a positive note.
Culture building is so critical in the classroom. As we approach the busy holidays to end the calendar year, how is your classroom culture? Even though it is the middle of the year, perhaps you might try the Selfie Project to build community in your room?
Interested in more SEL and PBL tips? I will continue to offer virtual and in person coaching and workshops throughout the school year outside of my teaching commitments.