Celebration Houses 2: Connected Community

Note: Don’t miss Celebration Houses 1: Connected Learning, as it provides background for the rich community connections described below. Thanks again to Mrs. Hudson and Mrs Keaffaber for allowing HSE21 Shorts to share their story of learning!

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The inquiry and collaboration embedded into project-based learning (PBL) make PBL experiences prime opportunities to build community, both within and beyond the classroom. Notice below how the Celebration Houses project helped foster learning and sharing that extended to students’ families and even into the Fishers community!

Q: Were there any ‘aha’ moments or fun surprises that came out of this experience for you guys as teachers?

A: Students’ level of interest and engagement was powerful!  Everyone seemed to enjoy the research and effort that went into the houses.  One particular night during the project will remain as one of our most memorable teaching experiences ever.  After a long day at BizTown (our 5th grade field trip), our students stayed after school to paint their newly constructed Celebration Houses.  Families helped as well.  It was truly humbling to see fifteen adults lending a hand and asking questions about the holidays while the students painted and answered questions. The ways in which students showed pride in their creations as they shared what they had learned is definitely a moment we will cherish.

Q: What are the benefits to students of this kind of learning? What did you notice as teachers?

A: We purposely did not give a holiday to those students who celebrated it.  However, we did make those who celebrate the holiday the Experts.  Therefore, if and when students had questions, they turned to the Experts for help and clarification.  For example, a Chinese-American student wrote the Chinese character for Good Fortune for that team to include on their door.  She also taught them how to make a sturdier lantern.

We also found our Experts learning more about their own holidays.  For example, when the Christmas group discussed the three wise men, a Christian student interjected, “Huh! I had no idea THAT’S why we give gifts to each other!”   Sometimes it takes learning about others and through others to better understand ourselves. This was great to witness!

Q: How are the students sharing their learning beyond the classroom?

A: All of the Celebration Houses are on display through New Year’s – most can be found in the lobby of the Fishers City Hall. Several additional houses are located in the children’s department of the Fishers library branch and at Launch Fishers. When you visit, make sure to scan the QR code hanging by each house! Each code will take you to a short video made by that student team – you’ll learn the history of the holiday as well as the significance of each element of the Celebration House. What holiday will you learn more about this season?