Beginning Project-based Learning in the Classroom

What I Learned: PBL is about student choice, not the teacher’s.

I can hear it already: *lonely clap* “Yeah, that’s the point man!”

Now for me to elaborate on this groundbreaking material.

First off, I’ve done considerable “planning” for this unit. As in: I’ve invested much time into the thought and production of ideas and questions, gathered resources, researched methods, searched for ICT and online tools, written a lot of notes, then reflected, deleted and edited those notes, and repeated this whole process multiple times. In the end (or rather beginning) it lead me to create a handful of questions and a project idea. Yeah, lots of time, not much tangible planning. That’s it.

In our Social Studies class the goal is to make a book on about Ancient Greece and Rome.

I’m already excited and I think the kids are excited as well… well as excited as kids can be for school. The day went well and I feel like I learned more about PBL in one day than I did with all the planning I did previously. But I would not have learned that much from this one day unless I had done all that planning and research.

When I started today’s class I was at the front doing my regular thing. Trying to “present” and “tell” the information about what we’re doing and what the goal was. I looked around and saw all the yawns, bored faces, and other indicators of students who were not into it.  I had a mini-epiphany, “This doesn’t look or sound like PBL”. I gave my head a shake and thought, “What am I doing? This is the same old me talking.” The voice inside my head rebuked me, “Yeah… student voice, student centered, you’re the guide.”

I quickly sought to rectify my mistake.  I just started asking students how we might be able to accomplish this goal of making a book. How do we get to our desired result? How could we incorporate ICT and social media into the learning experience? How should we structure the groups/teams? How do we incorporate both Greece and Rome into the process? What do you students need from me to get going?  This is just a loose paraphrasing. I didn’t ask all these questions overtly, rather, I structured and prompted in a way that they came to an understanding of their own. This went much better than me just directing what to do.

I got to give the kids credit here too. They haven’t done this before. Yet, they were firing off ideas, criticisms, counterpoints, and telling me what they needed for next steps. It was only a start, but it got my blood flowing knowing that “yes, WE can do this.”

So yeah, going back to what I learned.

1. Overplan, then go with the flow.  2.Questions are much better than directions.


Brent Schmidt View All →

Educator & M. Ed. student.
Skills: reading, coaching & shooting hoops, strumming guitars, talking to humans, gaming, consuming caffeine, scribbling and doodling, making foods.

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