Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
NEW BOSTON — Educators from four regional schools participated in a professional development program this week, at New Boston School. Twelve teachers from New Boston, Green, Shawnee State University and Ohio University Akron attended the four-day program to learn how to integrate problem-based learning into their curriculum.
The program was hosted by Beth Bugner of National Mentors Hall of Fame School in Akron, and Kathy Schmidt, from the Illinois Math and Science Academy.
“Problem-based learning is a way to have students take ownership of their learning by taking a real-world problem and coming up with solutions through research, experimentation, and real experiences,” Schmidt said.
Through problem-based learning, the students will be tasked with a problem, then break into groups and create a solution based on their learning and curriculum. One example, Bugner offered, is students might be learning about wetlands and instead of just reading about wetlands they might go to a wetland and measure the soil or observe the animals. Another example could deal with the topic of bullying, as students write English papers about bullying or study historical incidents of bullying.
“We’re teaching them how to pull curriculum together across all kinds of area to bring 21st century learning skills. So learning isn’t lectured, it’s a little more structured where the kids are accountable and the kids are taking responsibility. It’s giving the kids freedom in a prepared environment,” Bugner said.
The program lasts four days this week at New Boston School, and Bugner said they hope to come back later or have local teachers continue the program in Akron.
“We want to take the initiative, and anything we can do to get our kids motivated and involved in learning, we’re going to try. Problem-based learning is a great tool to get kids interested in the curriculum,” said New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs. “If you get them doing something they like and they’re familiar with, and they’ll do the work.”
Staggs said the newly opened New Boston School, on Lakeview Avenue and Glenwood Tiger Trail behind the stadium, was designed to utilize new programs for education, community, and professional development.
“The building, as you know, is very different. And it was made different for a reason. Some of the things we’re able to do now, most school buildings can’t do. The whole premise of the entire strategic planning is engagement, and problem-based learning is just one of those facets of engagement,” he said.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or email@example.com.