“Craziest History Class Ever!” #PBL

On Friday, my students met in their two Museum Shop groups to begin the conversation on what items they would create to best represent an exhibit on Europe from 1400-1600. (Introduction of this PBL project)They had already gone to the Museum of Modern Art’s online gift shop and explored the kinds of items that they had for their exhibits. They loved it and found it totally amazing and energizing, as I had hoped they would.

I created roles and tasks for each member of the group, to clearly divide the work and to be able to identify who was responsible for each part.

1. Store Manager
Daily Check-in with each member of the team on her progress
General oversight and encouragement of the team
Final oversight of creation of the store with the architect

2. Architect
Leading discussion of the parts of the store.
Creating a floor plan for the space with each area clearly laid out
Final oversight of creation of the store with the manager

3. 2 or 3 Area Managers – Areas to be decided after items decided upon, such as Children’s section, History Materials, Audio-Visual
Leading discussion of the arrangement and organization of the section
Working with other area managers and architect to create a well-organized store

4. 2 Advertising Managers
Leading discussion to identify the theme and slogan for the campaign
Creating a color sheet and choosing font for campaign
Daily oversight of the store sign, advertising campaign, store signs and business cards

5. Business Scout
Investigation of competitive stores
Research into museum store websites for new ideas

6. Store Maintenance
Organization of daily clean-up of material and storage
Supervision of breakdown of store after final exhibit
(I am the least satisfied with this role, but I ran out of ideas. Any suggestions are welcome!)

For this conversation, I had the Store Managers run the first part of the conversation, leading a conversation that discussed what each member of the group had researched and why that person or event was significant. Then the Architect in each of the two groups had each student discuss what item she wanted to create and why it was a good way to communicate the facts she had learned. The other students were encouraged to help each other by providing support and new ideas. Together they looked at the items and decided what categories the items fell into and then what areas they wanted for the store – the reason why the Architect was leading the discussion.

There were focused and thoughtful conversations in both groups, that I mainly sat back and watched. Not from behind my desk, having already learned that lesson, but on a desk in between the two groups. I threw out a question now and then or made a suggestion, but for the most part, it was student-led.

Then came the “Craziness”! It was time for the Advertising Managers to take over. It was their job to lead a conversation that led to each store having a store name, store colors for the campaign and a slogan. I reminded that that they wanted to develop an umbrella idea under which all of their ideas could fit. I told them to first quietly brainstorm for 5 minutes to allow each student individually to develop some ideas; then I turned it over to the Advertising Managers.

The energy and sheer joy in creation was electric. The Advertising Managers did a great job of helping each student to be heard, but they had so much to share. They are experts when it comes to being consumers of advertising. They know good campaigns when they see them, and each group was determined to develop the most catchy slogan around and to have the most interesting name that would draw customers to their store.

One group named their store The Story, since Europe from 1400-1600 is full of stories of change. Their slogan was “New Ideas from the Past; But our Treasures: Make Them Last!” They were working on a logo that would connect the past and the present.

Another group decided to call their store Explore the Old; Find the New, which is more like a slogan than a store name, so they will probably have to work on that. Their slogan was “Europe’s Exploration through the World of Innovation.” They were clearly working on combining ideas that were rich and engaging.

The energy and the learning continued!

3 responses to ““Craziest History Class Ever!” #PBL

  1. Melissa Canterbury

    Hi Hadley,
    My name is Melissa Canterbury and I’m a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I think giving students responsibilities whether it be classroom duties or held accountable in assignments like yours. I’m looking forward to reading more about how the students do and more of their ideas.
    Thank you so much for you posts,
    Melissa Canterbury

  2. Hi,
    My name is Chasity Heubach. I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I have enjoyed reading your blog posts. The fact that you give your students responsibilities in the project is a great idea. Also the fact that their work will be displayed will instill a sense of pride thus, encouraging the to create higher quality work. You asked for a suggestion for a role instead of store maintenance. My idea would be sales representatives. I work in a doctors office and although medications have advertising and slogans our office would not be aware of these medications without the help of the sales reps. Maybe if other teachers would participate they could go to other class rooms to sell their ideas. It would also help with public speaking.
    Thank you for sharing your project based learning ideas.
    Chasity Heubach.

  3. Hello,
    My name is Grace Hofer. I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I think it is a great idea that you let your students be responsible for their own group. Letting the students be responsible and use their creativity can make the learning experience more interesting and I think it is great that you let them do so.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

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