Day 5 – Introductory Week
Again, I started out class with a Check-In meeting. When we got to the tasks for the day, I wrote them out on the board. Essentially, there were two tasks that I wanted the students to complete: (1) Take the Skill Set Survey and (2) participate in a collaborative activity. The Skill Set Survey took most of the students about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. After the survey, I introduced the students to the collaborative activity. The collaborative activity is actually more of a challenge. I divided the class into three groups and distributed their materials. Then, I gave them the directions that they must construct a table from the materials provided that stands at least eight inches tall and could withstand the weight of a textbook. This was actually the first challenge. With the possibility that one or more of the groups could surpass this challenge, I created two more challenges. The second challenge requires their table to withstand the weight of three textbooks, while the third require their table to withstand a three feet book drop.
As the students worked on the activity, I circulated around the classroom, keeping a reasonable distance away from the groups. I wanted to avoid the path of becoming a “helicopter” teacher. I was excited to see how engaged each student was, but I also wanted to let them learn. I could see how this can be challenging for teachers. We’re so used to wanting to jump in, but in this moment, I learned that it’s far more beneficial to let them learn from each other. Hence, my role has begun to change from that of a “content master” to a “learning facilitator.” To be honest, I am absolutely okay with this change. If anything, it highlights my importance in helping my students along the process of learning and not necessarily on the product. Intermittently, I would step in and engage one of the groups with a series of critical thinking questions. I generally used these to help the group consider the scientific and mathematical reasoning of their design.
At the end of the activity, one group passed the first two challenges, another group passed the first challenge, and the third group was still building their table. I didn’t want to have the students leave class without considering what we just experienced, so I led them in a quick reflection. I asked them the following reflection questions:
- How well did your table do?
- How well did your group talk to each other?
- How well did your group work together?
- How could you improve this next time?
One of the things that was mentioned by a student was the need for student jobs. With the few minutes we had left, we explored all the areas of responsibility that would need to be addressed and created a list of student jobs.
Student Jobs used with PBL:
- Crew Leader (1 student) – Ensures that all students workers are fulfilling their responsibility.
- Assistant Crew Leader (1 student) – Assists the Crew Leader in all duties.
- Supply Supervisor (1 student) – Organizes supply storage facility.
- Supply Recovery Team (3 students) – Retrieves all supplies distributed and delivers to Supply Supervisor.
- Project Storage Team (3 students) – Transports projects between the work tables and the project storage facility.
- Facilities Management Team (2 students) – Ensures that the PBL environment is neat and clean upon entering and leaving the room.
Since we have a marker board in the classroom, I’ve been using that to write down a list of their daily tasks. I’m thinking of creating a PBL Resource Board with calendars, task lists, and other useful resources. I’ll take a picture and post it here as soon as I’m finished with it.