O’Neill Public Schools is a highly rated, public school district located in O’Neill, NE. It has 782 students in grades PK, K-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 12 to 1. The district mission is to provide engaging learning experiences in a safe and respectful environment where all students are expected to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to be independent, collaborative, and productive citizens of an ever-changing world.
Mr. Kevin Morrow, a physical education teacher in O’Neill, Nebraska, began using Challenge Based Learning by challenging a group of fifth and sixth grade students to promote fitness within their school and form healthy habits with their families.
Students worked in teams and talked with their families about their current health habits, agreeing on areas for improvement. From caloric intake to daily exercise, reduced soda consumption to better sleep habits, the teams shared ideas with their classmates and conducted research to learn recommended courses of action to solve these problems. They then took those solutions back home and put them into place, all the while tracking their progress, measuring what was and wasn’t working. The students presented their final results in a variety of formats; from video to keynote to PowerPoint and posters.
In the Challenge Based Learning model, students learn just as much from their failures as they do their successes. The key in Challenge Based Learning is not to skip ahead to the answers, but rather to encourage students to ask questions and think through how the topic impacts their lives and communities.