Friday, 2 May 2014

Project Based Learning: Idea Creation

I've been hearing lately that a lot of teachers are doing Project Based Learning. In fact there is even a hashtag on Twitter that has quite a huge usage - #PBL.

A bit of an explanation from Edutopia: "Confucius and Aristotle were early proponents of learning by doing. Socrates modeled how to learn through questioning, inquiry, and critical thinking -- all strategies that remain very relevant in today's PBL classrooms. Fast-forward to John Dewey, 20th-century American educational theorist and philosopher, and we hear a ringing endorsement for learning that's grounded in experience and driven by student interest. Dewey challenged the traditional view of the student as a passive recipient of knowledge (and the teacher as the transmitter of a static body of facts). He argued instead for active experiences that prepare students for ongoing learning about a dynamic world. As Dewey pointed out, "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself."



Interested? Me too.

Here are a few more links while I'm still learning:




My very limited knowledge despite trying to immerse myself in information for the past three hours - interspersed with discussions by colleagues at school - makes me want to try this with my Year 9 class. They are a streamed class and we have a strong focus on developing their literacy - so that they are AT their required level. Once there I'll push them on to achieving ABOVE their individual levels.

This is the same class I've spoken previously about - and now that the class size has altered, so too has the class dynamic. There is a solid group of about six girls now who are consistently onto it. There is a range of boys who COULD be onto it if they were appropriately separated by the kids they distract and are distracted by. Then there is a group of boys who somehow always seem to have migraines when they come to my class and despite visits to the nurse (one of which has actually shown me a doctors note...) I have the feeling they're playing on it now. I'm too nice. Then of course there is that one boy who wants to be DJ all the time and another who moves in his seat so often I can imagine hearing the dulcet tones playing in his own head coming out of his ears.

Part of wanting to do Project Based Learning with this class is purely experimental - for teaching - for learning - and socially... to enable my students to see that their friends are perhaps not necessarily the best to work with.

So with this theory in the back of my mind I am still here at school at 2pm... racking my brain to think about a possible solution.

Originally this morning after watching the below video... I thought that this was possible.



Collegial discussions now have me doubting myself.

The fact of the matter is that reward systems only work so far. My students... my Year 9 students in particular need to learn intrinsically. To learn because they want to learn. While there is about eight students who vocally tell others to be quiet and say "Shush! I want to Learn!" ... there are still so many who abuse the fact that I try to have fun in my class... While there are significant boundaries in class, there are also too many variables to control.

Perhaps a little free-range teaching is then in order.

At present - students should have (over the holidays...three days to go) found three poems they like on the internet or whereever else... and written three. I am COMPLETELY aware that there is a possibility that this won't have been done. However... high standards at all time. Flexibility to be aware that they may not have and allow time as a result to get it done.

Am I thinking too assessment driven? Perhaps. We have the rest of the year to get marks for the end of year reports. Should I allow them more reign to decide HOW they will create these booklets? Will I give up my idea of doing it a certain way because that's how it worked last year with my Extension Year 9 students? Yes... and No. There are students in my class who are capable of doing everything and more that my Year 9's did last year. Though for the students who may struggle - there needs to be more options, more flexibility. So it's kind of for them, and for the consistently awesome girls that  I think PBL would work.

The girls would appreciate the freedom. To learn their way and take control of their own learning and teaching of each other.

The boys would as well.

Though as I discussed with a colleague earlier, there is potential for this PBL to work, and of course to fail.

But Failure isn't real failure - it's only failure if you don't learn from it.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I need to think a bit more on this topic and exactly HOW I will present it to them.

One day a week for PBL? One day for Grammar and Cloze activities and comprehension. One lesson for the reading room.  Lastly a day for Topic - whatever we are working on following the set curriculum.

The reason for this - is merely because if my students had a set way of working - they may be more focussed. Because there is a more clearly structured routine. They'll know what we're doing that lesson and perhaps they will be more willing to engage in what we're doing. Of course it would mean changing the way I teach to the curriculum. However - each lesson would relate to the Topic day.

...................................................................................................................................................................

So.... Let's say Monday is Reading Room. They're already free-range in there but they could have a bloom's taxonomy styled tick box where they complete activities relating to what they read in there. They would also be required to write down what they read as usual in their reading logs.. but perhaps now with more purpose?

Tuesday they don't have me - but I'd use that non-contact partly to work on the Topic idea for the next few weeks and write up/find cloze activities and comprehension readables for the rest of the week.

Wednesday would be Grammar with Cloze activities etc as well as personal writing time - though could link this with Topic Idea and how their PBL is going.

Thursday would be Topic and Friday would be PBL.

...................................................................................................................................................................

Having taught on practicum at an Intermediate school - I can see the value in short snippets of learning informational knowledge and dedication to learning goals. I actually think this could work. It's something I've been thinking about for ages. But never really thought it through. Not that I've thought through the logistics of it all. I better keep thinking quick because I need to plan out the next week or so for all of my five classes before school starts back.

That's all for now.

Hi to the new watchers/lurkers/twitter friends and followers :)

A