We are launching our first PBL unit based on the Buck Model. I received training by a Buck Institute trainer this past summer. The training changed the way I look at projects. Our fourth grade team made excellent use of our teacher-directed PD day. We got together and I shared a brief overview of the Buck model. Then, we got right to our plan. We wanted to give students the opportunity to answer an engaging question. We wanted the students to do the real work of writers, and we wanted to give the students an authentic audience for their work.
Our project is set in the middle of a literature unit focusing on Charlotte's Web. Wilber, the starring pig, is born a runt and faces certain death until Fern steps in and saves him from the ax. He begins life in a comfy box next to the oven. He has warmth, and Fern's love, delicious slops and warm milk from a bottle. The pig's life is good! It is good right up until the point that he is sold to the uncle because he is becoming a liability for Fern's family. At the Zuckerman's he joins that other farm animals in the barn. He sleeps in a pile of manure and has a very small pen where he can exercise himself.
We'll launch the project by reading Arnold Lobel's, Small Pig. In this tale, the farmer's wife goes on a cleaning spree. She doesn't stop at her house though. She's not happy till she has cleaned the pig pen too. The small pig is enraged and runs away.
The inevitable question: How should farm animals be treated? Our students will be writing opinion pieces after conducting their own research. They'll invite local farmers to form a panel. Their author and revise questions to access the information they require in order to form their opinions. At the conclusion of our project, the students' opinion writing pieces will be published in a book that will be donated to the Clough and Taft Public Library.
We're pretty excited about the project. We're hoping that students will have an increased appreciation for the food that they eat. We're hoping that they learn about the humane treatment of animals and can weigh the cost/benefits of providing a quality life for farm animals. If you're interested in our project, you can check it out here:
Bacon, Beef, and Bird...What is the Word on Farming Practices? A PBL unit based on the BUCK Model