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How To Get Students Excited About Learning

Every educator loves to see their students excited and engaged in learning. We want them to be able to apply what they learn to real-world situations, too. These kinds of powerful learning experiences happen by design. No matter what or where you teach, you can get students excited about learning, and facilitate student-led learning through the Ciena Solutions Challenge. 

The Ciena Solutions Challenge, a global program by Digital Promise and Ciena, can support you along the way. This design challenge helps you use the material you already plan to teach and the tools you already have in your classroom. In today’s blog post we’ll take a look at this special opportunity for students and teachers, and how to get started!

Get Students Excited About Learning

The Ciena Solutions Challenge is a design challenge open to middle and high school youth and educators around the world. It’s completely free to participate and an excellent way to get your students excited about learning.

How does this design challenge work? The program is anchored by Challenge Based Learning. You might already have experience with this framework for learning while solving real-world challenges. 

Students standing around a table taking notes on a piece of chart paper.
Notre Dame High School students in Ottawa, Canada collaborate on their Ciena Solutions Challenge project. Photo credit: Greg Zapasek, Notre Dame High School, Ottawa, Canada

The Ciena Solutions Challenge

As part of the Ciena Solutions Challenge, students design solutions addressing Sustainable Development Goals. They can choose to focus on the goals that matter to them and their community. All program participants receive professional learning, mentoring, and funding opportunities to sustain and scale students’ work. This funding is up to $2,500 USD and awarded directly to your school or institution.

You can register now and share student projects through March 1, 2023. 

Free and Adaptable Challenge Based Learning Resources

To get started with the design challenge, you’ll certainly want to check out the Ciena Solutions Challenge Facilitator’s Guide. It is available in English, French and Spanish, and provides step-by-step guidance on how to use Challenge Based Learning in the Ciena Solutions Challenge.

The Challenge takes students and educators through three phases: 

  • Engage to explore the big idea and come up with an essential question
  • Investigate to learn more about the topic
  • Act to create a solution

The Resource Library provides activities and resources for each of the three phases of Challenge Based Learning. The Engage activities and resources help you and students explore your chosen topic. The Investigation Methods help students learn more about the topic. And you can use the Action Pathways to help students design an output that will address their chosen topic. When you jump into the Resource Library, you’ll also find the Challenge Builder and Student Challenge Organizer. These are great options to help you and students scaffold your learning activities. 

Challenge Based Learning in Action
Students in São Paulo, Brazil design 3D models for a sustainable house prototype. Photo credit: Ivanete Paes Landim, EE Simpliciano Campolim de Almeida and EMEF Dr Humberto de Morais Vasconcelos, São Paulo, Brazil

How Classrooms Around the World Have Embraced the Ciena Solutions Challenge

The Ciena Solutions Challenge can support your goals to get students excited about learning this school year. Want to try out this design challenge? Here are a few ways teachers around the world have embraced the Ciena Solutions Challenge

Jobert Ngwenya is a teacher at Eveline High School in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. His students chose nutrition security as their big idea. They created their own healthy snack bars as their solution for the challenge. You can read their story, explore their project and view their Challenge Builder to learn more about his students’ activities. 

Student representatives share their snack bar at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair under the Ministry of Youth Affairs exhibition stand. Photo credit: Jobert Ngwenya, Eveline High School, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Gaelyn Jenkins is a librarian at Rudolph Gordon School in Simpsonville, South Carolina. Her students tackled the Sustainable Development Goals and came up with a number of projects. One project’s goal was to reduce trash overflow in rivers and streams. You can check out their project and Challenge Builder to learn more about the students’ activities. 

Students bending down and planting trees
Gayaza High School students in Uganda lead a community tree planting trip with peers in a nearby community primary school. Photo credit: Theode Niyirinda, Gayaza High School, Kampala, Uganda

Theode Niyirinda is a teacher at Gayaza High School in Kampala, Uganda. His students took action on plastic waste in their community with a focus on environmental conservation. You can read his story, explore their projects and Challenge Builder to learn more about his students’ activities. 

Get Students Excited About Challenge Based Learning

Ready to get started? Use this link to register for the Ciena Solutions Challenge. You’ll receive updates, resources, submission tips, and opportunities to connect with subject matter experts at Ciena. 

As soon as you sign up, you’ll also receive a reminder to join the next #CienaChallenge Twitter Chat. I’ll join @DigitalPromise on October 20th at 7 PM ET. Hope to see you there!

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Blog Author and EdTech Consultant Dr. Monica Burns

Monica Burns

Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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