Thursday, February 01, 2018

Teaching Tip #95

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #95

What a title!

This article focuses on project based learning and the stumbling blocks students often encounter while doing them.

Stumbling block #3 – students must follow a predetermined schedule or format for the unit.

Students are so used to the “Sit and get” approach in classes – that is  they show up and are told what to do and have routines that they follow to ensure that whatever needs to be done gets done.  

Now the problem is that a lot of the work we do today doesn’t resemble that at all.  As Dave Ramsey is fond of saying – “you have to go out and kill something and drag it back to the cave.”

In a PBL unit, there is little “sit and get.”  The students do all the work and set their deadlines and schedules.  This is a shock for many.

What I do is give students a self-evaluation guide that can help them manage their time and limit their distractions – here is the link.

I have students complete it at the start of the block – when they have the full block to work – and then I have them return to it at the very end to assess how much they were able to actually get done.

Here are some suggestions to avoid this stumbling block –

  • Determine what standards and/or skills are being assessed.
  • Create a solid structure that allows for students to have flexibility in acquiring content and moving at their own pace.  I like to create phases of projects  (i.e. reading, writing, speaking).  Each phase includes  different “parts” that assess different skills or standards.  
  • Use appropriate formative assessment to monitor students’ mastery level of the skills and standards. Students can work through the phases at their own pace until they show mastery of each standard assessed. 
  • Embed small group and individual conferencing that provide students with actionable feedback.
  • Give timely, non-attribute feedback frequently (instead of “great job” or 100%, try something that restates the learning objective: “You have selected two relevant texts about entrepreneurship in the tech space.  I can clearly see both experts perspectives with the text evidence you state.  Now, determine which perspective would be most helpful to you as you write your business plan and why.  Then, share your next steps for additional feedback.”)

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