To empower all students to make meaningful contributions to the world, we need to provide them with opportunities to solve authentic, challenging problems. Partnerships with community members, businesses, and organizations provide the chance for experts in the field—from medicine to business to nonprofit work—to engage with students in the learning process and supply real-world problems from their fields that serve as the driving purpose for student learning.
One example of these partnerships is with the Loudoun Freedom Center, where students were able to tackle the challenge of informing the community of and advocating for the preservation of historical sites in Loudoun County.
During the 2018-19 school year, we launched a collaborative professional learning experience, connecting community and business partners with teacher teams to co-design real-world PBL experiences for students. Community partners, such as the HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) Janelia Farms, Loudoun Water, USGIF, and Morven Park partnered with teams of teachers to co-design and collaboratively implement authentic PBL projects for students. This partnership increased the authenticity of instruction by including community partners to identify authentic challenging problems they face and leveraging authentic problems as the context for students' learning of significant content and important competencies. The collaborative implementation of the authentic PBL projects creates opportunities for students to interact with community experts throughout the learning process.