Day 2 – Introductory Week
Today, I had the students gather in a circle in the middle of the classroom and I engaged them in a discussion of the following questions:
- What is Project Based Learning?
- What does a Project Based Learning classroom look like?
- How is Project Based Learning different from group projects?
- How have other schools integrating Project Based Learning?
- How are tests used with Project Based Learning?
- How is learning assessed with Project Based Learning?
- What are some examples of Project Based Learning activities?
- What is the student’s role in Project Based Learning?
- What is the teacher’s role in Project Based Learning?
Prior to this discussion, I distributed this list of questions to all the students and encouraged them to learn what they could about Project Based Learning using these questions to guide their investigation.
Since I want my students to feel more empowered, I started by coaching one of my students to lead the discussion, while another student kept record of all that was said during the discussion. (We later defined this role as the Discussion Leader.) As the students explored each question, I already saw a difference in engagement. Instead of two or three hands, I saw every hand raised up in the air when a question was asked. I saw an eagerness to share ideas and express creativity. The discussion even led to a few more questions we wrote on the board to explore further. For example, the students were interested in clearly differentiating between projects and project based learning as well as between project based learning and problem based learning.
Throughout the discussion, the students also shared a few best practices, i.e. using group contracts, peer reflections, and project calendars. With three designated work areas, I assigned each area with one of the best practices and asked the students to sit down in the area they would like to develop. I gave them the timeframe for working on each of these items, and gave them some space to brainstorm, research, share, and create. After 25 minutes, I checked in with all three groups and already saw rough drafts of each item. I alerted them that they have 5 more minutes to work on this and that rough drafts should be ready to share during tomorrow’s class for the other groups to review.
From what I’ve already learned about Project Based Learning, I feel that these two days have been very productive. The students have been showing so much excitement and have already been thinking about ways of making this experience an absolute success.