Saturday, April 26, 2014

Important Essentials in Project Based Approaches.

My last post was a collaborative post with my team members about the PBL we created for a second grade geography class. I wanted to take some time now and put my personal thoughts out there about Project Based Learning. 
When I first heard of the idea I honestly thought...Great another way to do a lesson plan. Every professor/teacher in education has a new and different way for educators to write out lesson plans. Even if we don't agree with it we do it, because that's what is going to get us an A in a class or its what some supervisor wants.
After about 3 weeks of team collaboration I personally began to see that this is not just a lesson plan but a way to completely change our way of teaching. Of course it is hard, I mean it's new...but it is so awesome. Once you start going you begin to realize that in more ways than one you are already doing some of the 8 essential criteria for a PBL, now you need to turn it back to the students.
Here is a link to the 8 essentials for a PBL. I am not going to talk to you about how I used every one of them, as I have already done so in my previous posting. I am however going to talk about what I think is the most important aspect of a PBL.

So the most important essentials for a PBL im my personal opinion are important content, and student voice and choice! Of course you need important content...other wise these lessons are going to get you nowhere, and you will have no way of proving that your students are learning. So for every Project you need standards, objectives/goals. For however long it is you need content to back it up. Below is an example of our groups daily outline, and you will see that we have a daily standard/goal to backup our daily lessons. If you don't have these your administration is going to stand in front of you with his hands open, and a jaw dropped asking you "why does this matter" "How is this going to help you"

Day of Unit
Title of Lesson
Detail of lesson
Day 1
State Overview
Understand Physical characteristics.
Introduce geographical landmarks
Google Earth
Wiki Page
Send email to parents regarding wiki page.
Day 2
Begin to understand mapsl.
Understand the representations of major physical and human features on maps and globes.
Compare and contrast east and west coast.

Write flat Stanley letters
Google Earth and paper maps.
Begin Flat Stanley and look at wiki page.
Day 3
national cultures, and physical characteristics.
Flip-chart &
Magic School Bus video.
Students write down things they know about volcanoes/Hawaii
Day 4
Physical and cultural aspects.
Research on Dessert. Prepare questions to ask Arizona teacher.
Skype with Arizona teacher.
Science teacher connect through skype/adobe connect.
Day 5
Physical characteristics.
Magic School Bus & small Promethean activity

Day 6
Physical characteristics including physical features on a map.
You-tube Video, hands on activity with play dough.

Writing activity to assess knowledge of mountains after video. 
Day 7
Physical and cultural characteristics.
Visit farmland
Day 8
World Connections
Understand ways regional, ethnic, and national cultures influence individuals' daily lives.
Look at Flat Stanley responses and the wiki page.

Day 9
Work with others.

share ideas with an open mind.
Begin thinking of what landmarks they would like to research and learn more about.

Students collaborate and begin asking themselves questions of what they want to know.
Day 10
work with others

Building Inquiry
Day 11
Stay on task

Ask questions for clarification

Day 12
communicate with others

Day 13

I am sorry for the lengthiness of this more thing.
Student Voice and Choice. If you are not giving your students the opportunity to be innovative, you are failing them! Harsh I know...But they so badly need and want to take responsibility for their own choices, and learning. So next time you are working on a project let your student pick how they are going to create something, or how they are going to research something. We are there to give them the knowledge and tools to become successful, let them try, let them become successful.

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