PBL Taken Further: 5 Ps to Get your Students Around it on International Trips


Closing ceremony of Goiás Without Borders with the 300 public school students who passed the selection process

Hello, folks! First of all, I’d like to apologize for not writing for some time. I’ve been quite busy and involved in many projects. But I’m back and I have great news, which will be duly announced soon.

One of the main reasons why I’ve been absent is the wonderful Goiás Without Borders program in which I took part as the organizer of the English Immersion course with Partners of the Americas Goiás. The purpose of this program is to send 125 public school students to the USA for a month to have intensive English classes and work on global competencies. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am to be part of such a beautiful concept, especially considering it is the first edition and our 30-hour English prep course was a tremendous success. So here’s my huge THANK YOU to all those bright young people (the first 125 and the other 175 who are going next year) who gave me, and 21 other teachers as well as my dear colleagues Rejane and Elisa, hope to carry on fighting for our education. YOU ROCKED BIG TIME!!!

Another special THANK YOU note to a dedicated young man by the name of Guilherme. He’s the reason why I’m writing this post. Guilherme approached me on the first day of class and said: “I have an idea for a project”. I was running around the place making sure everything was OK and didn’t give him the proper attention at first. Then we finally sat and discussed his ideas. He wanted the 125 gang to record their experience in the USA so that they can share it with future candidates of the program. I thought his idea was brilliant and decided to take it one step further. Why not use that incredible energy of over 100 eager adolescents to produce authentic materials we can share with teachers and students in Brazil and the world? Think about it for a second: authentic videos, images, audio files of New Jersey and New York in the winter.

Since these young people are between 15 and 19 years old, we already have a consent from their parents to share whatever materials they produce and, considering that they’re posting it on social media under the hashtag #gopartnersgo, #goiassemfronteiras, #mrtrunktravels and #fasamgoiassemfronteiras, feel free to access whatever you want in a month or so.

Here are the 5 Ps, and many questions, for them to get started and for you, dear teacher, to share with your students who might be taking their vacation abroad.

Suggestion: If you’re a teacher or educator, you might want to take a look at the entry I wrote with Stephan Hughes on PBL first.


Project-Based Learning starts with a problem, a driving question. So, think about things you would like to know about the USA and how you can investigate them to discover what they are, how they work, why they are that way etc. Maybe you want to know how people celebrate Christmas or if American students are more dedicated than Brazilian students. Perhaps you would like to find out how universities work or the nationality of most immigrants in New York. 

Now you need to know how you’re going to make your material available for others to see/hear/feel. Is it going to be mostly audio or video? Don’t you think writing short texts and interviews are also a good idea? Are you going to record very long videos or short ones? Can you use Facebook, Instagram or YouTube to share this material? Can you use WordPress or Blogger to create a blog? What about a podcast? 

You’ve decided to make short videos of people’s leisure time in New Jersey and post them on Facebook for example. What if someone else had a similar idea? There are 125 people involved in the project! You need to come up with rules and set goals. Also, you don’t want to have too many videos about uninteresting things. How many videos/podcasts/texts/photos will you produce every week? Remember: quality is more important than quantity. Will you edit or animate anything? Do you have all the skills you need to do a great job? Can you find someone to help you with editing tips or even to edit for you? What if you had different sections or columns (daily life, culture, arts, etc) to make things easier for you and the whole crew? Did you prepare your interview questions in advance?

Time to go out there collecting data. Does your phone have a fully charged battery? Do you have something to write on? Have you asked people’s permission to film or record them? Are you keeping track of things you’re collecting? Where you save everything you collected?

You’ve got the material and now you have to present it to the world. Have you revised it? Are you struggling with the writing? Can anyone help you? Is there a logo or a slogan you would like to add? Are the videos/images/texts/podcasts interconnected? 

Rather than giving you answers, I thought I’d ask you a lot of questions to see what might come up. Remember that this is a great opportunity for you to document your experience and help people who might go through the same things as you or even never have the chance to do so. Can’t wait for the results!

If we used this force, young people’s eagerness to find out about things, about people, and about the world, I’m sure we’d be not only nurturing curiosity but also helping them discover what roles they can play in our globalized world. Isn’t education supposed to do that after all? Join us with your students!

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