Students Refuse to Leave PLTW Classes

Katie is the middle school mathematics and STEM teacher at East Prairie School in Skokie, Illinois. Katie began her career 15 years ago as a third grade teacher but has spent the last 10 years teaching middle school. In 2010 she was trained in PLTW Gateway and found her passion. Katie currently teaches Design and Modeling and Automation and Robotics and loves watching how excited about learning her students become in these classes. She became a PLTW Master Teacher in 2014 in order to train other teachers so PLTW can enrich the education of more students.

I have been teaching Design and Modeling and Automation and Robotics for the past six years and absolutely love these classes! The students amaze me every day in every one of my PLTW classes. Their perseverance, creativity, "out-of-the-box" thinking, and collaboration are inspiring.

I currently have an all-8th grade Automation and Robotics class that meets the last period of the day. At the beginning of each class, the students walk in and immediately get to work. There is no redirecting, no need for me to try to get their attention to let them know what they should be doing; they are engaged and on task the entire time.

8th graders … the last period of the day ... even on Fridays!

This is amazing and a true testament to the outstanding, student-focused curriculum Project Lead The Way provides.

The PLTW classes at our school are 40 minutes long on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for two quarters. I have lost track of how many times students have asked if the PLTW classes can be an hour long, if they can take them again, or if there are advanced classes offered. It is so rewarding to hear a student say that she forgot she was in school during Design and Modeling, or when I have to kick kids out of my class time and time again because they are late for their next class. During the last week of school last year, I had students coming in during lunch and recess to try to finish their robotics challenge. They were so determined to see their project to the end. Students constantly ask if they can take their engineering notebooks home to finish their designs or practice isometric and orthographic drawings. Middle school students asking for homework? That doesn't happen! It does in PLTW classes!

I am fortunate to be a part of a program that challenges students to become problem solvers and critical thinkers. I am thrilled when students refuse to leave my classes because they need "just a few more minutes" to finish their project. I'll take skipping my lunch break any day of the week if it means students are challenging themselves and pushing themselves to learn and do more. Isn't this what education is all about?

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.