542 – Self Reflection and Link to Project

Through the creation of my own project and the study of resources and projects presented in this course, I think I now have a pretty good understanding of the connection between authentic, real life experiences in PBL and learning impact. Providing an engaging, open ended driving question that inspires inquiry and exploration and tying it to the development of an artifact or project that represents the culmination of the ideas explored, while providing reasonable voice and choice for students in the process is what makes PBL so effective. Developing a unit that starts with interdisciplinary standards in mind and addresses those outcomes through real world applications creates meaning and leaves a lasting impact on students.

My expectations for this class were to come away with a deeper understanding of the benefits and strategies for PBL and a comprehensive file of resources to turn to once the course was over. My expectations have been met and exceeded.

I have developed and delivered PBL units to classes of students with a gifted designation, however I look forward to using the information and ideas from this class in regular stream classes. I will be taking ideas on differentiation and assessment gathered from this class and applying them to the development of subsequent units. I would like to also find ways to collaborate on the development of future projects with some of my colleagues at school.

Here is a link to my final project

542 PBL: Role of the Facilitator

A popular misconception about Project Based Learning is that once the unit begins the teacher’s job is done. Meticulous planning in the pre-unit stage by the teacher allows the teacher to act as facilitator of the project much like a project manager in a business setting. It is their responsibility to ensure progress and guide employees/students through the process, offering guidance and encouragement along the way. The manager/teacher must conduct standards based instruction to ensure success of the project and be flexible enough to alter the plan based on the evolution of the project and the needs of the students. The teacher/manager must conduct continuous formative assessment to ensure all learners are on track while providing customized instruction and direction for learners who require extra assistance. The teacher is responsible for the continued well being of the group process, ensuring all members of a collaboration are contributing in a positive manner. The teacher must continue to provide feedback to parents and staff on the progress of the unit and on individual students.

A teacher in a project based learning environment must be organized, flexible, a multitasker and must not be afraid to relinquish some control and direction within their class. The teacher must be willing to self assess and evaluate the effectiveness of their instruction and unit and be willing to make changes based on events in the class and student feedback.

For me personally, in delivering a project based unit I will need to be more “tuned in “ to the needs of the students once the project has begun in order to customize plans and instruction. I tend to over plan and can be somewhat rigid in lesson planning. Allowing for deviation from the planned course is something I will be aware of and work on.

542 – Designing Integrated Curriculum

 

“Asking kids to do real world things naturally requires them to go beyond what they know.” – Cheryl Hibbeln

Interdisciplinary project development creates relevance for students and allows teachers time to reflect and learn from each other. Too often teachers are forced to teach in isolation, but when they are brought together to plan collaboratively they can gain insight and energy from each other. Integrated curriculum is by nature based on reality and the real word beyond the school doors because school is really the only place where you are expected to focus in on one thing at a time. In the workplace and in social environments people are expected to respond within multiple domains. The difficulty with this approach is finding ways for individual subject teachers, especially at the secondary school level, to satisfy the requirements of the learning outcomes of their course within the context of the interdisciplinary project. Interdisciplinary projects must contain material from relevant disciplines that are necessary to know in order to complete the project.

 

Unfortunately, this approach is virtually impossible in my school given the restriction of the timetable and teacher assignments. There would have to be a fundamental shift in the way we design the school day at our school in order to allow students timetabled into specific blocks in specific courses to cross over for collaboration with students and teachers in other areas. Teacher assignments would have to be designed to allow opportunities for, not only the planning process, but also to actually implement a project.

Inspiration for this post is found at this Youtube link.