PBL: Elephant in the Room

So, blogging huh?

I’ve been contemplating this for a little while, somewhat reluctantly, and the thing that’s finally got me typing right now is this: Elephant in the Room. This was by far the best program I’ve ever taught. I think we all aim for those topics that our kids will remember in years to come. For me, this is it.

This was a combined Science/English Program with a top Year 9 class. The subjects were linked through the overriding Driving Question: How can we spark change within our community to improve the treatment of animals? It ran for 9 weeks, encompassed a horde of syllabus outcomes from both subjects and had them hooked from day one.

For me the beauty of this project was:

A) all kids love animals = instant buy in.

B) they immediately saw the real world connection. Enter significance.

Students were given an uber wide scope (maybe too wide) to create something that would influence change. Whilst somewhat impractical, witnessing their unrestricted creativity was awesome. We had thought provoking artworks, scale chicken cages (I’ll never buy caged eggs again after climbing inside), students phoning seaworld, simulation orcha cages – it was absolutely inspiring. By the end of the project these students were genuine experts, they knew their topics inside out and radiated passion. The best part, was that months after we completed the project they were still talking about it. Que feel good teacher moment.


The finer details:

Entry event:

For our entry event we showed and discussed a range of Youtube clips. These were perfect as there was a substantial amount of voice and choice  in terms of what animal issue students could select. This entry event showed a broad scope and allowed them to pick what interested them most. Heres a small sample of some of our favourites.



Public Audience:

As the culmination of this research we held an exhibition in our school hall and invited members of the community in to view the students work and talk to them. We were lucky enough to get Power FM to come along, check out their audio below:


Skill development

This was a perfect fit for English. All year 9 English classes were studying the concept of Power working towards an end of term speech. For us, this turned into the Power of the Individual to spark change. We aimed to get the kids thinking along the lines of ‘what can we do to improve our world?’ and then get them to actually do it! The end of term speaking task, again was a perfect fit as PBL naturally helps to improve students confidence and public speaking through regular updates to the class etc. For Science this topic tied in with the Human Body. Students started by investigating the human body and eventually extended into this project, drawing comparisons between humans and animals.

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