On November second Farmington Valley hosted a training for program directors and site directors on Project Based Learning. Sonia Toledo and Sarah Chambers put together a great program to introduce all of us to this new and exciting teaching tool. Everyone in the room seemed eager to learn and very excited to bring back the new information that they gained from the training. The training was very hands on, and taught all of us a very new way of teaching. We learned to ask driving questions to the children, and to let the children take an activity or lesson where they want it to go. Most exciting about this new tool is that while children are learning about new topics and information they are also learning how to work as a team, problem solve, and find out what really interests them. I know this because as a group we experienced this in the training. There are really infinite possibilities as to what you can do with Project Based Learning.
I was so excited after I left that I got to work right away. I went back to my site and asked my kids what they would like to learn about, they gave me a great list of ideas to start with. One thing that my children really love doing is performing skits, so the first thing we did was a skit activity. I split the kids into four groups and gave them each a bucket with assorted items in it. I also provided a brief set of rules. The rules were that they needed to create a skit using all of the items in the buckets, they needed to write a script, and that they had to have at least three characters in the skit. I read the directions and then left them to work. It was amazing! The kids were so excited and I began to see leaders of all ages emerge in each group. Then parents began coming in, and instead of leaving, they stayed and began participating in the activity with the children. They were just as excited about the activity as we were!
I am so excited to see where Project Based Learning will take us this year in my after school program and also at camp. This is just one more way that the Greater Hartford YMCA is enriching the lives of youth. We are not only developing our staff into cause driven leaders but also our children. We are striving to give kids the tools in the afterschool setting that they will need to become successful adults.