Another first in Northeast Indiana's efforts to encourage development of a 21st century skills-equipped workforce launched Aug. 1 in LaGrange County.
Lakeland School Corporation and Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools are hosting the region's first Project Based Learning (PBL) Conference Aug. 1 and 2 in Northeast Indiana, sponsored by the Talent Initiative. About 150 teachers and administrators from across Northern Indiana and the surrounding areas are coming together to share strategies and best practices for implementing PBL in their classrooms at this two-day event at Lakeland's Leading EDGE High School in LaGrange.
In PBL methodology, students go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem, or challenge. Rigorous projects help students learn key academic content and practice 21st Century skills, such as collaboration, communication and critical thinking. It allows students to learn in a team environment by completing authentic projects that address: "Will I ever use this in real life?"
The first session of the PBL Conference began with attendees hearing keynote speakers Leonard Helfrich of the Talent Initiative and Mark Michael of Ft. Wayne Metals talk about 21st Century skills and the innovation PBL brings to students and how it is vital to the development of talent in Northeast Indiana. Educators will then meet with facilitators to discuss the learning strategies and best practices for implementing PBL in the classroom. Breakout sessions for this conference ranges from "PBL at the Kindergarten Level-Laying a Foundation" to "Project Design and Group Management," among others.
"The Talent Initiative was pleased to be a partner in Northeast Indiana's first annual PBL Conference," Helfrich said. "With support from the Talent Initiative, Lakeland and Garrett-Keyser-Butler put together a comprehensive and innovative program that will increase implementation of PBL throughout our region as well as become a mainstay of regional educational professional development efforts for years to come. We are proud to be a part of that."
The Talent Initiative is a program of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership in collaboration with Community Partnerships Inc. The Talent Initiative's sponsorship of the PBL Conference is one of many regional efforts aimed at supporting PBL and the opportunities it can bring to the area. To date, the Talent Initiative has distributed more than $2 million in grants to educators to help encourage PBL implementation in Northeast Indiana classrooms. Additionally, the Talent Initiative provided funding for startup costs at the six New Tech high schools in Northeast Indiana.
The Talent Initiative, established by a $20 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., is a 10-county regional program focused on accelerating education and training initiatives in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The primary goals of the Talent Initiative are to increase the base of highly skilled workers to meet the needs of the defense/aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries, while increasing job quality and reversing the current decline in regional per capita income. The program receives financial oversight from Community Partnerships, Inc., a supporting organization of the Community Foundation of Greater Ft. Wayne and operational oversight from the Northeast Indiana Fund, a supporting organization of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.