How a Teacher Guided Her Students Through a Meaningful Learning Experience

Kelsey Dolge is a social studies teacher at New Century Academy in Hutchinson, Minnesota. In the beginning of last year, her school decided to lead the school towards a more project and problem based learning direction. Looking for tools that can help students implement this goal, they were introduced to Project Pals by another teacher and decided to present it to their faculty to see if any of them was interested to try it out with their students. Kelsey was immediately on board and started using it with all of her classes. 

Every year, Kelsey does a Native American history project with her 9th grade students. This year she decided to use Project Pals for it. She created a template for her students covering cultural traits of the tribe, living arrangements, sustainability, European Interaction and the tribe today. Breaking down the project into tabs, provided students with the type of organization that they were lacking previously because it helped them focus their attention on the essence of what they needed to talk about and at the same time see the big picture. 

Being Part of a Meaningful Life Experience

Looking to start a project with her 12th grade students, Kelsey delved into the Project Pals catalog, which includes more than 150 projects that teachers can clone and customize for their own needs. The project ‘Solving a Problem in Society that We Care About,’ attracted her attention immediately because she knew that it can help her students be part of a meaningful life experience that they can care about and get involved with. She cloned the project and customized it for her own needs and assigned it to her senior class. 

Students enjoyed working on this project and were highly engaged. The project was broken down into tabs, each focusing on a different phase of the project, helping students organize their thinking towards the stated goals of the project. The project helped students develop a real attachment to the problem they were investigating. One group decided to take on human trafficking and after researching the subject and describing it in-depth, students found an organization in Nepal that tries to eradicate human trafficking in Nepal and are fundraising to achieve their goals by offering red bracelets to donors. The students immediately took on this worthy cause and started a fundraising drive by offering these red bracelets to students. The project became a launching pad for students’ active involvement in a societal problem and a source of pride for helping out to solve a real problem in society.

One of the biggest problems that teachers face in a collaborative project is assessing how much work each team member contributed to the project. The analytics in Project Pals helped Kelsey make an accurate determination how much of the work was done by each team member. In fact, Kelsey said that these measures of transparency and accountability built into Project Pals, made the process of grading the students really easy. These measures were also very beneficial for the students because the analytics motivated them to perform better and become more accountable. 

Listen to Kelsey’s Entire Story

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