Note: The following article is a revised version of one I’ve shared in the past about Problem-based Learning. I revised it to match a new site I’m putting together. This installment is one of several that will appear over the next few days.

 Action 2 – Engage Students in a Real-Life Problem

This action builds a blueprint for inquiry and the investigation process to follow. As the teacher, now that you have identified key curriculum goals and work forward from those to pose an engaging introduction that reflects a real world, ill-structured problem. As in real-life, students must use the inquiry process and reasoning to solve the problem. This is known as “problem engagement” and/or “Meet the Problem.”

The year is 1914. Benedetto Baldoni has left his wife, Vittoria and 2 small children, Basilio and Massimo, behind to search for what he hopes will be a better way of life. Life in his home country has been hard the past 15 years. He knows that they will be reunited some day.

The boat approaches the harbor and the large statue of the lady holding the torch is now visible. This is the symbol he has waited for. It has been a 10-day journey and the conditions on the ship have been deplorable. The food consists of bread and soup once a day.

“Those with papers go to this side,” says the ship’s officer as he points in one direction. Those without are told to stand on the other side and are given signs that are labelled WOP’s (WithOut Papers). Benedetto’s heart is racing. He can’t wait to touch dry land. He clutches the letter from his cousin, Guiseppe Belamori, to his chest.

“Cousin,” Guiseppe writes in his letter, “many opportunities await you, but also many dangers. We will have much to discuss when you arrive.”

Of course, you can always rely on engaging videos, etc. to introduce a problem. However, a written scenario enables you to tailor problems that can best match your class’ learning objectives.

Check back tomorrow for Action 3 – Focus Inquiry and Investigation.


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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