Imagine a group of first-grade students covered in mud. As messy as that sounds, students at Central Lutheran School may need an extra change of clothes as they explore the question: How does dirt give us everything we need?
Meanwhile, fifth-grade students at Concordia Lutheran Elementary School are creating a living-history museum in an effort to demonstrate how Colonial life compared with daily life today. And middle-school students at Lutheran South Unity School are debating which impoverished country would benefit the most from $10 billion in aid from the United Nations.All of these students have one thing in common: Their teachers attended IMPACT 2012 at the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) at Concordia Lutheran High School in June. Each year, The Lutheran School Partnership hosts the seminar, with support from The Lutheran Foundation.IMPACT stands for Involving Minds in Problem Analysis and Critical Thinking. IMPACT is an annual weeklong training for elementary- and secondary-school educators in project-based learning and the use of 2.0 technology tools to design learning activities that excite students.
Participating in IMPACT 2012 were teachers from 10 of our local Lutheran schools: St. John–Emmanuel, St. Peter’s, Holy Cross, Suburban Bethlehem, Concordia Elementary, Woodburn, Lutheran South Unity, Central, St. Peter–Immanuel, and Wyneken. Project-based learning presents students with a situation, challenge, or problem that they need to solve. In the process, they develop a “need to know” about certain concepts and skills in order to solve the problem. They’re then asked to present their findings in the form of a project that’s shared with an audience. Students also collaborate with each other and develop strong speaking and listening skills, and they refine their presentations for public review. Those teachers attending the free session also received iPads and instruction from national expert and author Erik Palmer. Cindy McKinney, academic coordinator for IMPACT and The Lutheran Schools Partnership, noted on one of the evaluations, “ … nothing could compare with what I gained in class. I did not expect to also learn so much from Eric Palmer. Thank you also for the iPad, exercise equipment, book, and lunch.”