I had the chance to observe a Project Based Learning lesson about a week ago at one of our high schools. A senior government and economics class took on the challenge of improving a fictional company’s image. This company has been accused of allowing horrendous working conditions, making employees work 7 days a week, and only paying them 75 cents an hour! The classes were now going to learn about real-life working skills in a corporate setting.
Students needed to develop a new mission statement, slogan, print ad, and produce a television commercial. Once these tasks were completed, the corporate teams were required to pitch their ideas to a group of local business execs from Apple Inc., Foot Locker, Starbucks, and Bruster’s. They operated in formal business decorum by dressing in business attire, distributing portfolios, and even passing out business cards.
This was my first experience with a full-blown PBL lesson and I was thoroughly impressed. I felt the students learned lessons they would have never learned without this project. Some of the highlights were preparing a product that will be viewed by an authentic audience. Experiencing lessons like having to read your advertisement because the execs can’t read black print on a blue background. Having to answer the classic interview question, “What separates you from the other groups? Why should we hire YOU?” You could almost see the students growing in front of you! This lesson addressed all the qualities we know are important in an ever-changing job market: problem-identification, problem-solving, teamwork, creativity, and collaboration. This lesson was clearly a technology integrator’s dream!
- “I’m looking for an opportunity to provide…21st-century skills”
- “It kind of takes them out of the book mindset and into real life”
- “It was cool; we got the corporate feeling…it’s really hard being in a corporate setting”
- “It’s intimidating for the students – a group of seasoned business people. But I think they handled themselves well”
- “We look for people that are personable and that are able to connect with people in a short period of time…they displayed that”
- “Would I hire them to work for us? Yes”