Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Alternative Education Center ‘invades’ Panama Canal

Alternative Education Center ‘invaded’ Panama Canal as it ventured last week an ambitious schoolwide project-based learning (PBL) lesson titled, Panama Canal Roundtable. While PBL is becoming a culture of every classroom at AEC, this is the first time in history that the institution attempted to implement a schoolwide PBL. The initiative provides the students with a great opportunity to experience for themselves how the standards they are learning from their various subjects are interrelated and applied to real life.

In English, the project was called Panama Canal: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Students acted as investigative journalists of The New York Times, tasked to research and publish about the history and updates of the controversial Panama Canal and its current and future impacts on people and the world. The journalists investigated and gathered information about the Panama Canal from various sources (Social Studies -- history and social impacts of the Canal, Science -- water elements and buoyancy to figure out the boats allowed to pass through the canal, Math -- dimensions of the canal and goods volumes and costs, etc.). Before they were approved to publish, the journalists were tasked to consult their international partners as consultants and present their investigative reports to their co-staff journalists for feedback. The presentation of their investigative reports, integrating ideas from their international learning partners as consultants, was the finale of the project.

To provide them with background knowledge of the update of the canal, students, in their English class, read and analyzed a nonfiction story about the Panama Canal Expansion using SOAPSTone strategy integrating season-based arts. The class called the strategy as SOAPSTone Turkey. Students traced their hands on a colored paper as the wings of the turkey and their feet as the body of the turkey. They wrote on the wings the title and author, the components of SOAPSTone (Subject, Occasion, Audience, Person, Speaker, and Tone), and three big facts from the nonfiction text. On the body, students wrote either a summary or a reflection.

After analyzing the nonfiction story, students responded to a Padlet activity about whether or not they were in favor of the Panama Canal Expansion. International partners as consultants also participated in the Padlet activity. They researched how the Panama Canal impacted their own country before they responded to the Padlet activity. All students were expected to comment on others’ responses.