We learned about what makes a hero and then researched some famous heroes from American history. To share our knowledge, we created a museum and invited our friends and families to learn from us.

Step One: Defining a Hero

First, we decided to create a lemonade stand for our Spring Journey Showcase! We decided we needed to learn more about lemonade in order to make an awesome product, therefore we researched how citrus is grown and harvested. Then, we used shared writing to make a list of supplies for our lemonade production. Our most important item was lemons, so we decided what better way to make FRESH lemonade than to pick our own lemons? We took a field trip to a citrus grove and were surprised to see that the lemons had already been harvested. Using our problem-solving skills, we chose to pick oranges instead and make orange iced tea.

Standards covered included researching, shared writing, sorting, adding, observing plant growth, and problem-solving.

In this moment, Cayden and Jadyn showed how they were interacting with the text, noticing details, and using what they know to analyze what they were reading.

Cayden: I like when the flag waves in the wind.

Jadyn: This flag is old, like from the 80’s.

Cayden: No, no, no, here’s the year (1777)! And here’s George Washington!

Step Two: Researching American Heroes

Next, we carried out independent research on other American heroes using books and online texts. We learned how to recall main ideas and details from our reading. Also, we practiced making timelines, by first using George Washington as an example. Lastly, we researched photos and paintings of our heroes to make our own portraits by drawing and painting. This way, we used multiple intelligences to show our mastery.

Standards covered included researching, retelling nonfiction, observational drawing, sequencing, using/creating timelines, and exploring primary sources.

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Researching Independently

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Kevin looked through several photographs of Cesar Chavez and decided on one to use for his portrait.

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First, he made a pencil drawing and later added paint and a cardboard frame.

Step Two: Step Three: Telling Stories with Clay

By collaborating with the art teacher Ms. S, we added clay work to show what we learned about our heroes. We analyzed our research and asked, “Why is this person a hero?” This helped students to shape their main ideas and to choose something to make from clay that would represent their ideas. They also learned how to work with a new art medium by exploring how to mold the clay with their hands and other tools.

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Ronan: “I made a building because Donald Trump made buildings.”

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Aria: “I made a flag because Hillary Clinton is in the United States.”

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Kevin: “I made grapes because Cesar Chavez helped the farmers.”

Step Four: Creating the Museum

We wanted to share our new knowledge with others, so we decided to make a museum, just like our friends in VPK did during their dinosaur unit. Through building upon our prior knowledge of museums, we decided our exhibits should include the items we made (timelines, portraits, and clay work). We also added a 3D tower featuring portraits of our heroes, museum decorations, and a ticket counter with a large American flag. On opening day, we welcomed VPK students and family members to our classroom.

Standards covered included telling stories of American heroes, identification of American symbols, number and letter writing, and patterning.

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Here we can see that the students have learned about an important American symbol, the flag, as well as math concepts such as patterning and number sense.

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Sierra making tickets using letter formation and spelling

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Sierra: There’s 13 stripes. Red is first.

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Ronan: And like 1,000 stars! Aria: No, there’s 50.

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Sierra: Another 50, and it’s 100!

Reflection

Through this project, the students were able to use non-fiction sources along with prior knowledge to learn about historical figures and their importance. They were also able to share their learning by creating a relevant space open to community members outside of their classmates.

Next Steps

Because of the students’ interest in making a “museum,” the concept could be applied as a final project for a variety of content-area topics.