For those who are not familiar with PBL, the first paragraph of the Wikipedia page is a great summary.
Many teachers in one way or another are using PBL already. And it's popularity is still on the rise, because "it works". Often the modern tools of our multimedia epoch can play a role in it. The Leadership programs we suggest on this web site can be also offered as PBL classes for all "regular" students - and for all students with learning, attention, motivation or behaviour challenges - within the curriculum of any school. In fact, SAFE in SCHOOLS' goal is to have the initial "leaders" of a school inspire all students to become "leaders".
Using the SAFE program as PBL projects adds "something extra" to the many benefits PBL already offers. The project is not only presented as learning situations in which students develop various academic skills around a "real-world theme", this "real-world theme" is nothing less than the students' own true passions! It is Passion-Based Learning at its best!
Here are a few suggestions for using SAFE in SCHOOLS projects as PBL programs:
* LANGUAGE CLASSES
* PHYSICAL EDUCATION CLASSES
* MORAL ETHICS EDUCATION & ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS EDUCATION
* LANGUAGE CLASSES.
Use words, phrases, stories and projects from your students favourite sports, street arts and other passions in your language class. Language teacher could come see a SAFE session. During their next class (and maybe even during the session) they can name all the objects and concepts of their students' sport, game or form of art in the designated language, plus their observations about related themes to their students' passion. They can research, maybe even get in touch, with fellow-players from other countries.
* PHYSICAL EDUCATION CLASSES.
Street Arts (especially the circus arts) are already used by some PE teachers as one of the themes of their all-round lesson plans. Futhermore various schools are now offering study / training options where students can train daily on a sport or form of art (soccer, circus, dance, etc.) within their school programs.
Here are a few short pointers for a great PBL program, using SAFE in regular Phys. Ed. classes as complementary activity.
It has been a few decades now that Physical Education has not been considered as one of the core subjects of all-round education (cuts in the number of classes, increases in number of students per class, etc.). This has had an impact on various levels, including on the overall enthusiasm to participate. Although generally PE stays "a subject" that many students like or at least don`t mind, many PE teachers now often have a line-up of students before class with reasons not to be (fully) active (or they don't tell, but are obviously hard to motivate to play). Still the “mission impossible” of the job description of every PE teacher is to inspire all students to discover the importance of taking care of their body and health and to have them try a variety of sports in such a way they hopefully become passionate about one or more of them. *1
SAFE playshops in regular Physical Education classes are great complementary activities both for students who can’t participate (or pretend they can’t) as for students who have to “sit & wait" while one part of the class plays a game. Organizing SAFE playshops "on the side" is a great way to involve all students.
On the Re-creation page we started a discussion about the importance of evaluating the real effects sports (or arts) sessions have on each student. Obviously organizing SAFE sessions at the same time as we run a regular PE class is only possible when "respect reigns” in the gym and on the field. Those students who are practising "on the side" have to be autonomous; self-teaching, peer-inspiration, taking care of the material, etc. Welcome to the SAFE Method.
Using SAFE in PE classes can be a great form of Project-Based Learning. If you look at the list of the Benefits of the Street Arts you will see that about each benefit on each level can be directly applied to any sport or other physical activity. This means that everybody who develops his SAFE skills, is at the same time becoming a better all-round athlete. Make your students aware of the many ways they can transfer their SAFE skills to general sports practise and you are using PBL. It is no more about “learning to play basketball”, it is about developing eye-hand / foot coordination, synchronized breathing, evaluating mistakes, developing strategic vision, etc. and applying all that to whatever sport is on the schedule!
Here is short Summary about the variety of skills we develop when we learn to juggle three balls. Most of it can be developed through practising other Street Arts also and then be transferred to the sports arenas. The greatest athletes in team sports are good examples of athletes who have developed their personal skills, pretty much like circus artists. Showing You Tubes about how great athletes practise on their own a lot (in the same autonomous way as we do in SAFE playshops) could be included in this PBL approach (see also the Chinlone and Harlem Globetrotters projects below).
Important: it is not at all necessary for a PE teacher to be skillful in the Street Arts in order to facilitate their students to organize SAFE sessions! Experienced PE teachers are often already familiar with the basic guidelines our SAFE facilitators offer for giving students the responsibility to organize their own sessions.
Here are two PBL programs that can finally move PE teachers into the central role they should have in any education system (and inspire the Ministry of Education to take adequate measures to fully support PE in all schools!).
We inspire PE teachers to team up with 1. the supporting staff (special care counselors, social workers, etc.) and 2. the social sciences teachers.
1. This PBL program offers a tremendously efficient way to work with all students who have learning, attention, motivation and/or behaviour challenges. The form we mentioned above with the Benefits of the Street Arts was created for supporting staff, teachers and parents in order to identify the various needs of students with special needs. As all PE teachers know; the sports arena is a wonderful place to develop a long list of life skills. SAFE in SCHOOLS encourages team work between all the “important” adults in the lives of those students who, in one way or another, are falling behind. The PE teacher could play a great role in this. All SAFE in SCHOOLS staff are – besides Street Arts facilitators - experienced player / facilitators in team sports.
During SAFE sports sessions, we most of time warm up with individual freestyle practice using the SAFE AREA Manual. Then we practise Circle Games, in the style of the Harlem Globetrotters and Chinlone (see below), before playing a game. ME WE, as it says in the center of the SAFE AREA Poster. Team sports games easily bring skills on all levels to the surface and when these skills are lacking or not yet well developed, team sports offers an unique arena to address that!
2. Teaming up with social sciences teachers is a great way to help students widen their horizons in many ways. Here are two examples of documentaries that will inspire both the daily SAFE skills of students and their interest in the cultural and historical backgrounds of their fascinating subjects.
a. Toronto-based filmmaker Greg Hamilton made an extraordinary documentary about Chinlone, a 1500 year old freestyle football game - with a rattan ball - from Myanmar. He was able to leave the harsh political situations of those years out of the documentary and fully present the role Chinlone has played for centuries in the lives of many Burmanese men and women, young and old. Here is the Synopsis. The top Chinlone players are in the same league as today`s top freestyle football players, as the Trailer shows.
b. Harlem Globetrotters; The Team that Changed the World is another powerful documentary that can be also used both in PE class as in social sciences class. Besides describing their amazing history starting in the racist South of the US in the 1920's and showing some of the highlights of their international successes as athletes / entertainers and as peace ambassadors, the DVD also includes “special features” with freestyle Harlem Globetrotter lessons from the actual players.
* MORAL ETHICS EDUCATION & ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS EDUCATION.
In the SAFE AREA Manual, you will notice that we kept our comments about Step 4 and Step 5 (Respecting ourselves, others and the environment) very short. However, this is where it really gets interesting! This can be explored and developed in many ways. Steps 4 and 5 are based on having the direct experience of the dynamics of interdependency. This can be wonderfully linked with Moral Ethics Classes around topics like Self-Esteem, Team Work and Peer Cultures and with Environmental Awareness Education. After the experience of how our feelings and our thinking directly affects anything we do in our sports & arts practice, students usually naturally widen their understanding of how their functioning is also interdependent with how the players around them are doing and also interdependent with the various aspects of the physical and natural environment they play in. This can offer a great playground for teachers in any class about inter-personal dynamics or about the wide variety of topics concerning the environment-at-large.
Please, let us know if you have more ideas about using SAFE in SCHOOLS as PBL programs.
Let us also know how using our suggestions works!
In a future version of this web site we will have a forum to exchange experiences and ideas about SAFE PBL programs.
*1 The challenge of today's PE teacher is of course more complicated than we just described. Many students are hard to motivate in our digital epoch; they can start their day on Facebook and watch TV in the morning. Some are at all times, even during their school day, somewhere in between "texts & chats". SAFE in SCHOOLS is not "against" the Information Age, but recognizes a "totally different ball-game" in many aspects of education. We inspire discussions about how to adjust our educational strategies, including embrazing the opportunities to use modern technology in PBL.