Often, teachers think they’re ready for the realities of a “learning by doing” environment, when in fact, they’re only slightly willing to let go of the belief that “teacher knows best.” In reality, Project/Problem Based learning has many flavors, but the constant is that it requires an active, responsive mindset of all learners in a dynamic learning environment. And the teacher had better be the lead learner, willing to share teaching duties with his/her fellow learners.
Sure, that may sound like some mumbo-jumbo, but a teacher who looks at him/herself as THE expert in the room, above the learners dooms the entire class to micro-managed misery.
Likewise, the teacher who looks only within the four walls of his/her classroom as the learning environment is short-sighted and sorry. The world is so full of readily-accessible information now, we deprive our students of rich, authentic experiences when we stick only to the mapped curriculum.
Today, we’re going to do an informal self-check to see what your comfort zone is for implementing Project/Problem Based Learning in your classroom.
On a scale of 1 - 10 (it doesn't really matter which end is which, does it? We're not keeping score), how comfortable are you…
…with differentiating content (what kids are learning), process(what they're doing to learn it), and product (what they turn in to you) for students on a daily basis?
…managing with one teacher who is working with multiple groups in a room at a time, each group doing something different?
…with not all students learning the same content in every single project?
…with some noise and mess in your room?
…with your students working with potentially dangerous tools and or messy supplies, such as hot glue guns, hammers, nails, screws, paint?
…with NOT covering every content standard in the book?
…with students who are more expert than you are in your content area?
…with supporting other adults in *your* room?
…putting in 12 hour days?
…not knowing with 100% accuracy where a project will take your students in their learning?
…with helping students resolve their own group conflicts, even though it takes more time than you thought it would?
…with not using multiple choice tests and quizzes for your gradebook?
…asking students to help you create scoring rubrics?
…teaching students how to self-assess, peer-assess, and self-reflect as a real and meaningful process of evaluation?
…with supporting your students blogging, video conferencing with experts, creating wikis, GoogleDocs, FaceBook pages, Edmodo groups, Prezis, SketchUp 3D models, video games?
…finding additional resources (experts, technology, supplies) beyond your school for (and with) your students?
…going to bat against tech dept and/or your Admin in order for your students to be allowed to access websites and other tech tools?
…with other teachers questioning your content and approach to learning because the kids are too loud, or are having too much fun to be *truly* learning?
…your own abilities to do the right thing for kids to the absolute best of your abilities at all times of the day and night?
If you read through those questions just like a list, go back through and pause after each one. Go ahead. Time is flexible in our world of learning.
Think about which ones you truly embrace and which ones make you wonder. Which ones make you nervous? Why?
Please consider leaving a few thoughts about one (or more) of the realities. Where are you on this list?
PBL teachers, which realities have I forgotten to add?