I’ve chosen to include my project-based learning outline on climate change that I developed during the 678 class. Project-based learning is something I had not really thought much about before I enrolled in this class. I was one of those teachers who would just assign a project to the class and I’d have guidelines and expectations for the students to follow blindly. They basically just checked off boxes on a rubric I would give them and that was that. They’d get their grade and we’d move on. But what were my students really learning? Were they learning the material, or just how to get a grade? This was always something I had a problem with as a teacher, but I wasn’t sure how to fix it. Since I’ve taken this class and we have learned so much about project-based learning, I have completely changed my view on how I should be teaching in my classroom. I’ve realized that there is a better way to get the material across to my students and get them engaged with their own learning. The key is to give them more freedom with fewer guidelines, and to let them use their own creativity. Creativity is what draws them in and creates self-motivated learners. “When children are interested in what they are doing and are able to use their areas of strength, they achieve at a higher level” (Edutopia 2007). My job is simply to facilitate and expose them to new ways of doing things, and to show them the new and different technology that is available for them to use.
Creating a PBL was certainly something I was not used to doing, but I worked with a colleague of mine who also teaches Earth Science and I believe that together we came up with a pretty good PBL outline that we can use in our classes as a first step. As I’ve mentioned above, we developed a unit about climate change which I think lends itself toward a PBL very well. There is a lot of information out there for the students to work with, and with all the controversy surrounding the topic it certainly gives the students a lot of freedom in choosing what they want to focus on. One of the challenges with developing this PBL was to find a way to get the students to present their projects to a wider audience. We decided to start with something we thought would have a bigger impact on our own school, and so we decided to show the student projects on the video screens in the cafeteria during lunch periods. The idea was that students should feel a sense of pride in their work, and should work more carefully knowing that the entire school will see their projects. We also decided to have the student share their work via social media, another way for them to show their work to a larger audience, and hopefully a way to get the students more engaged in the project. “Effective PBL requires integrating student ownership in the project design and implementation processes” (PBL Blog, n.d.).
While working through this class, I’ve learned quite a bit about project-based learning. Things I know I would never have seen or done if I had not taken this class. It is such a powerful tool to use in the classroom that I am extremely grateful that I was exposed to it, and had an opportunity to work through it with my peers in this class. Without learning from my peers in the discussions, I’m not sure I would have been able to wrap my head around creating a PBL myself. I probably would have been scared off, and would not have taken a chance of doing one in my own classroom. Now, I’m looking forward to the opportunity of using my climate change PBL and I cannot wait to see how it goes.
PBL Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://www.bie.org/blog/35_leaders_on_the_successes_and_challenges_of_project_based_learning
Why Is Project-Based Learning Important? (n.d.). Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning-guide-importance