Wednesday, June 29, 2011

PTL it's PBL!

After reading the articles and viewing the videos clips located at :“More Fun Than a Barrel of . . . Worms?!” - Diane Curtis, Edutopia, “Geometry Students Angle into Architecture Through Project Learning” - Sara Armstrong, Edutopia, “March of the Monarchs: Students Follow the Butterflies' Migration” - Diane Curtis, Edutopia,
one can start to form a framework of what Project Based Learning is all about.
In all three articles there are central circumstances, principles, and roles. These central parts are what make project based learning unique. In looking at the circumstances, you can see that all the schools were looking for active projects that were relevant to the students' lives. Each project was designed to create an authentic learning experience that could be assessed beyond the normal means of test and pencil. The principles that seemed to guide these projects were quite clear. One guiding principle was that each project presented a problem or essential question. This drove the project forward as the students worked collaboratively to solve the problem or question. Another principle was a large focus on authenticity. The teachers who created these projects spent time to make things as real as possible, and even at times took the reality and expanded it to reach thousands of students (i.e. March of the Monarchs). The roles in project based learning are create in a such a way that the teacher serves as only a guide to the students learning. The teacher is not the chief authoritarian, and does not simply lecture to stimulate learning. The teacher helps present the students with the problem or question, and then backs off to the let the students use their creativity and ingenuity.
The role the students play is an essential part to project based learning, because it gets students engaged. As educators, we know that if a student is engaged, they will most likely take ownership of their learning, and ultimately become knowledgeable in the content. This is the style of learning that seems to fit most soundly with students today. We do not want our students to simply be robots, and regurgitate information. We want students who are equipped to lead our country, and we need to start teaching them as if they will be.

*This article is written for a class I am taking at Wilkes University.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Having To Send Them Back

This is my least favorite time of the school year. The kids I love teaching, skip and parade to a summer of swimming and sleeping in. I always get a case of the blues for a few weeks (I can't help it, I love my job).
As I reflect back on the year, there are many highlights:
  • My students read over 3,000 books and 8 million words on Scholastic Reading Counts.
  • We Skyped with 3 different classrooms this year.
  • We participated in Epals with a class in Texas.
  • We took part in the Global Read Aloud.
  • Some of my students were personal recognized by author Wendy Orr (Nim's Island).
  • We used used the mobile lab, a Nintendo Wii, and a class Ipod Touch to assist in learning.
  • We successfully just completed our first ever, Project Day, and built three wooden pieces for our school playground.
  • The students collect or earned $97 for BloodWaterMission, $120 to buy a goat, $55 to donate to Tom's Shoes, and $50 to help pay a teacher through Central Asia Institute.
The list could go on, but the point is that great kids make for a great classroom environment. I couldn't be more proud of the achievements these 2nd graders have made. I will miss them.

What was the highlight of your year?