PBL Pathfinders: The Confluence of Authentic Learning Experiences & Student Agency

Saturday, April 4th, 11:15am -12:30pm - Session II

In this workshop, we highlight the necessary personalized proof points needed for developing student-agency through the confluence of authentic PBL challenges and curriculum planning with Pre-K through 8th-grade project samples from beginner to expert PBL teachers. Participants will explore the Five Stages of Finding a Solution: Authentic Challenge and Purpose, Information and Prototyping, Perspective and Point of View, Actions and Consequences, & Considerations and Conclusions. Through hands-on experiences we will demonstrate the vital school, school leader, and teacher professional development shifts needed to link student-directed learning PBL with a variety of curriculums to ensure students are the beneficiaries of equitable personalized learning. Jill Ackers will utilize her book Developing Natural Curiosity through PBL, to examine these proof point shifts she and her team have made in Rhode Island public schools, public and private schools in the United States, and international schools from around the world. These explicit links between research, formative assessments and practice demonstrate the next generation of indicators needed to transition from classrooms intended to operate as enclosed spaces, with minimal connectivity to reimagined interconnected, interdisciplinary PBL learning communities. and their impact on the local community.

Courtney Sevigny
Courtney is in her fifteenth year as an educator.  This is her eighth school year as a school administrator.  During her time in the classroom, she taught fifth and sixth grade general education and ESL.  Courtney served as a MESSENGER Educator fellow and Solar System Ambassador with the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education.  As an administrator, she participated in the FUSE Leader program with the Highlander institute and worked on the district design team for Cranston Public Schools implementation of Blended and Personalized Learning.  This year, Courtney is working with Jill Ackers- Clayton to implement and coach teachers in delivering instruction through curriculum based authentic challenges using the Five Stages of Finding a Solution protocol.
Liz Gencarelli
Liz is in her twelfth year as an educator in the Cranston Public School Department. Liz spent her first 5 years as a special educator and has since been a fifth grade general education teacher. She currently teaches 5th grade at Eden Park Elementary School. Liz embarked on her blended and personalized learning journey in 2017. She is a cohort 5 FUSE RI fellow. In addition to her work with Highlander Institute, Liz presented a classroom simulation showcasing blended and personalized strategies used in her class at the 2018 Blended & Personalized Learning Conference. This year, Liz is working with Courtney Sevigny & Jill Ackers-Clayton to deliver instruction through curriculum based authentic challenges using the Five Stages of Finding a Solution protocol.
Jill Ackers-Clayton
Jill Ackers has been a PBL teacher, leader, and school consultant worldwide to transform schools into learning ecosystems for the 21st century. As an educator with 20+ years of experience, she brings her passion for constructivist learning, languages, and technology to educators through authentic, relevant, and complex professional development. Jill has consulted for organizations including PBL Works, P21, World Leadership School, and Teach Thought. She is the co-author of Developing Natural Curiosity through Project-Based Learning and Leverage Technology to Enhance PBL. Jill’s work with community-based learning was highlighted in Forbes.com: Preparing The Workforce For The Next Generation and she has written blogs for Getting Smart. She has a Master’s in Educational Leadership, is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, A+ Certification Engineer, and Cisco Certified Network Administrator. Jill has started both private and public new schools and taught in PreK-12 and university programs. She has redesigned university professional development programs across the country and was a founding designer for the Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) first urban transformational leadership masters program. Alongside engineer professors, She also helped design the SMU Lyle School of Engineering Teacher summer training STEAM institutes. She is the Senior Education Consultant for Fielding Nair International, an architectural firm dedicated to school design. Jill’ s current projects include schools in Rhode Island, South Carolina, New York, Spain, Thailand, Australia, Pakistan, Russia, and Colombia, and she runs virtual PBL Learning Community fellowships across the country and internationally.