Curry Second-Graders Take On PBL Beautification Project
Teachers are constantly looking for ways to incorporate Project Based Learning (PBL) in their classrooms. Curry Elementary Second-Grade Teachers Natalie Ayelsworth, Andrea Casillas, and Kamala Nelson are in a unique situation where they all have PBL training, so they decided to make the most of the position they’re in!
Rather than tackle a PBL assignment alone as a class, Ayelsworth, Casillas, and Nelson decided to work together and take on a PBL task together as an entire grade level. Their goal? To take ownership of beautifying the flower bed sitting in front of Curry’s front office.
In Casillas’ classroom, the students worked hard researching what plants would work best, taking into account how they would fare in a desert climate and how much upkeep is required. They decided on some hibiscuses and elephant food, a desert flower and succulent plant respectively. Ayelsworth’s class handled the math that went into the project from measuring the area and perimeter of the flower bed to translating that into how much material will be needed. Next door in Nelson’s room, students were in charge of ordering the materials and even participated in conference calls to order the plants.
“The kids were able to see how much can be accomplished by simply working together,” said Nelson. “A single class tackling the project alone would be a really difficult task, but by splitting it up it became much more manageable and I think the end result is better than if one of our classes were to do it by themselves.
The Curry second-graders also received some assistance from Facilities Management for Learners Maintenance Technician Matthew Black who set up the watering system as well as helped with some of the digging and planting. They even had a guest speaker from Tempe Public Works come in and discuss different kinds of plants and gave them advice on what would work best for their situation.
“People around the school have taken notice of the new flowers, and the kids really like hearing passing remarks about the plants,” said Ayelsworth. “I think they’re really proud of the positive change they created, and they’re able to take credit for making a difference.”
After the project was completed, Shaddai Armstrong, a student from Nelson’s class, particularly enjoyed the hands-on aspect of the project.
“I really liked pulling the weeds and spreading the rocks,” Armstrong said with a laugh. “It was hard and I got a little dirty, but it was worth it to help the school.”
Casillas mentioned how important it is for the kids to actually be able to have a physical end result for all their hard work.
“In class we often give the kids a lot of scenarios, whether it be with them reading a book or working on a word problem but with this project it wasn’t hypothetical,” said Casillas. “They put in the work, they went out and did it and in the end they got to physically see what they accomplished.”