Each year at Eastern Christian Elementary School we plan a school-wide Problem Based Learning (PBL) project. In a PBL project, students are presented with an essential question or problem that they must work together to answer or solve. Problem Based Learning allows students to take ownership of their learning and think deeply and creatively.
Our annual PBL project is integrated into our annual spiritual theme. This year’s theme of Trust, Know, Yield, Go is based on Proverbs 3:5-6 which tells us to trust in the Lord with all our heart.
As we thought about these four key words in our theme, we thought about the Steen family. Mr. Steen was a teacher in our high school, Mrs. Steen volunteered in the elementary school and their three children attended our elementary and middle schools. The Steens recognized God’s calling to serve as missionaries in Tanzania so they yielded to God and agreed to go and serve Him.
We asked our students, “How can we walk alongside of the Steen family as they Trust, Know, Yield and Go?” Students had to think about ways to support the Steens who are on the other side of the world.
After reading the Steen’s blog and learning about their life and work in Tanzania, students came up with many clever ways to help the Steens. We celebrated the completion of our PBL project recently in chapel. Each grade level shared what they learned throughout the PBL process and how they helped the Steen family.
- Students created puzzles for the children in the Steen’s village. The puzzles tell the Gospel story. The Steens will be able to use these puzzles as they witness to the children.
- Students ran a lemonade stand at school to raise money to send to the Steens as part of their missionary support.
- Students created Bible verse booklets with a special verse for every letter of the alphabet. These were mailed to the Steens to use as they witness to others.
- Students encouraged others to pray for the Steens. They hung posters around the school to remind everyone to pray and they sent encouraging letters to the Steens.
- Students created goodie bags to distribute to the children in the Steen’s village.
In addition to integrating our PBL project into our spiritual theme, it is integrated into our curriculum. As we learned about the Steen’s life and work in Tanzania, we also learned about African life, culture, animals, geography and recycling (there is a lot of garbage in Tanzania that could be recycled). Students wrote persuasive letters on why we should buy lemonade from the lemonade stand and why we should pray for the Steens.
We are thankful for the tremendous effort our students put into our PBL project. We know they learned a lot and made a difference in God’s Kingdom!
It is through a project like this that our elementary students learn how to transform the world.