As part of a project-based learning experience, Bronxville Elementary School first-graders in Valerie Palacio’s class have been investigating how their families have shaped their lives. They will present their findings before an audience of peers, teachers and parents.
Over several weeks, the students gained knowledge about their families through sustained inquiry and authentic learning. They brought in family photographs to discuss what similarities and differences they noticed between them and their family members before writing down their observations about the physical traits they had inherited. In addition, the students interviewed an older family member to discover how customs and traditions helped shape the identity and culture of their family.
“The students took that information and made connections to their lives today,” Palacio said. “They enjoyed finding the similarities and differences. One child discovered that his grandfather loved to play baseball as a child and so does he. They are both Yankee fans.”
The project allowed students to make discoveries on their own and collect artifacts that represent who they are through their heritage, culture, traditions and family history. The experience helped them develop a definition of what family is and understand that families are fluid and open to interpretation.