Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Reflection

What do you understand best about project based learning? Least?

I understand that PBL is a way to teach a variety of school lessons as well as life lessons through one long project. Standards can be hit in a variety of ways in school and by using PBL students have ownership of their work and become emotionally invested. This means that they will remember their lessons for years to come rather than taking a test and then letting the knowledge fly from their brains. There is a lot of work that will go into a long term project and the students have to be on board, they have to reflect on their own work often and the teacher must do the same. I imagine this gets easier each time it is done, but without having actually done this yet, the thing I would say I understand least is if students will do consistent work throughout a semester (for example) or if they will have to rush at the end. This is something that will obviously be different with different kids, but at the same time, I look forward to running a PBL unit so that I can really experience it.

What did you expect to learn in this course? What did you actually learn? More, less, and why?

I actually wasn't quite sure what this class was going to be like. I guess I thought it would be more discussion and not just making our own project. I am so happy I was wrong, because even though I didn't actually run this project in my school (yet), the experience of putting it all together and seeing what others were doing with their PBL made it so that I would feel confident going about running it in the future.

What will you do with what you have learned?

I am going to attempt to run this exact PBL next year. However, I would want to try to run it with another teacher and create something more cross curricular. There would be a million ways to add in any other subject area to this project, if another teacher was willing to try it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Post Project Reflection

After watching the video from the Watershed project, I really like how the teacher used a sort of round table discussion to ask the students what they were enjoying about the project and what was difficult or needed improvement. The students are obviously the most important part of a PBL project and if they are finding things too difficult or struggling, then that aspect has to change. Having this type of discussion throughout and then at the end will allow students who share the same opinion to express it. If one student is having trouble, the teacher or peers can help. If all of the students are having trouble, then that part of the project needs to be tweaked or possibly removed.

I would also involve parents in a reflection. Did their child stress about this project at home or possibly come home excitedly talking about the great time they are having in the library and how they can't wait until next week to work in class again. Are the working extra at home or miserable when they have to get back to it. Parents obviously know their children better than anyone else, so their opinion is very important.

This is a project that could become a cross curricular event. Discussing this with other teachers and how their subject are may be able to tie in with our project would be another way for students to work together in class or see how this project ties in with other things they are learning. 

Because the students will be writing in a weekly journal, this is not a one time assessment. As instructor, I will have to reflect daily on what the students are doing, how quickly they are moving, what should be timed differently, moved to a different part of the project or removed. 

There will be a lot of people involved in a reflection because this project is based on effecting people in a big way. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

PBL-Role of the Facilitator

  • Will my role in the teaching/learning process change?
  • What are the skills of effective facilitation?
  • Will the students develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful?
  • What changes will you need to make in order to become an effective facilitator in your PBL unit?
Teacher as facilitator means that you are working with students in a way that will make them more and more independent. This will almost never mean that a student can do an entire project without a teacher's help, but rather that they are to try things on their own and have a teacher and their peers guide them when they stumble or simply to have another set of eyes on something. This is how collaborative work will happen in their futures so it is best to prepare them for it. 

Effective facilitators know when they are needed and when to hang back. They check in on every student regularly and have conversations about what it is they are trying to accomplish and giving input. Having students reflect on their work is a great way to check in on them as well, so that their thought process is clear and they are staying on track. Mostly, a good facilitator knows each subject area well and understands PBL fully. 

PBL and teacher as facilitator means that students will definitely be bale to develop skills needed to be successful, and even better, they are learning them at their own pace while working on something that is important to them. They will want to put their best effort and best work out for the owrld to see so they will learn how to work hard and try new things on their own. 

As a teacher, I will need to learn to hang back a little and instead of giving answers, asking further questions in order for students to discover their own answers. Asking higher order thinking questions will allow me to improve as a teacher, which will ultimately make the students improve their overall work ethic and collaboration skills. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Designing Integrated Curriculum

Integrated curriculum allows students to have a goal for their entire school year and cohesiveness with all of their teachers and classes.  The teachers in the video mentioned that with this type of curriculum they would be able to know what their students have learned in past courses no matter who they had as a teacher. This can sound simple and like it means that all teachers are doing the same things on the same days, but that is not necessarily the case. Teachers have standards to hit, but can teach them in a manner that works for their students.
Designing this type of curriculum requires that all teachers be on board and does certainly seem like a lot of work. Teachers would need many hours of uninterrupted time in order to make this a fully functioning curriculum and the first year would most likely not be 100% smooth, but a chance to work out the kinks and even get student input into how things could have changed or improved.

To make this a reality in my current district, there would most likely have to be an entire year to plan based on what each course consists of as well as a summer to put the plans together. Some teachers are not project minded, and this would be a slow process as far as becoming a school wide movement. It would most likely happen with one team of teachers and after success they would be able to give their colleagues professional development on how to plan and implement this type of curriculum.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Assessment

During the course of this project students will be journaling and in the end will be presenting to their peers through any means appropriate. This could mean filming a news report about the product, creating a magazine about it, or presenting its use if they are actually able to make something. In the beginning of the term, students will be given their rubric for the final project so they know what is expected of them. They will also receive directions about the project to which they can refer at any time. Both will be posted online so they can never be lost. This means that the performance targets are clear throughout the semester and it will be public.

Because students are researching a need and creating their own product, it will have to be something that actually works and is authentic. This will help them to feel ownership of their product and feel successful at what they are doing. Their journals will allow them to reflect on their work at home, when they have had some time away so that they can make changes as needed or celebrate great ideas.

This project allows for a lot of ideas and a lot of freedom, so the mini lessons will be key in keeping students on track and providing models and strategies for research, documentation, product development and presentations.

This project will take an entire semester, and things will be changing and adjusting according to student need. If they are going to feel ownership and pride in their work, they have to be given the chance to really see their visions come to fruition, which may mean a lot of adjustments. The first time a project is done means that their will be kinks that have to be worked out and teachers need to be flexible. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Authentic Audience

Is it still PBL without an authentic audience?

Yes, because planning is a part of the job and knowing what you are going to be doing in the future is what teachers do. That being said, being flexible and knowing that things might have to change because of the way the audience reacts is also a part of the job. That has nothing to do with this being PBL because that can happen in any type of classroom with any kind of lesson. Having an authentic audience definitely makes things easier because you know in what ways you are changing things around to suit new needs.

A reason this is difficult without an authentic audience is because one is not aware of the level of the students, how many students have different learning disabilities or needs, but lessons should be built to be adapted to any situation anyway.

Monday, May 22, 2017

PBL

I think that PBL has a place in every school no matter what types of resources they have available or what type of school it is. Students having the ability to take control of their learning and really become invested in it means they will learn how to learn without needing someone to show them every single step and hold their hands. I personally love being able to do long term projects which allow students time to reflect on a days' work with the opportunity to come back and add to their work or to try again. I love the idea of using learning to help other people and so I will be working on a project where students learn library skills through mini lessons during an entire semester (1 day per week) as they use those skills to do some type of good in their community. I would like the projuect to be very open because I have found that when you tell students they can be creative, they are hesitant at first, but once they see that their creativity is not only rewarding, but fun, they tend to explode that creativity with each passing day. 
If I were in an elementary school and teaching the entire year, I would have this project take up the middle of the school year with some time for introductions and some basic lessons in the beginning of the year and wrapping up the school year at the end with a major project for most of the year. Having certain aspects of the project due throughout the year means that students won't be scrambling at the end, and will be focused throughout. 


I hope that I am given the opportunity to teach this lesson as I am currently on a flexible schedule and do not see students on a weekly basis, but am hoping to create this class within my school and PBL is an important part of that goal.