Monday, May 11, 2015

NSE BIE and PBL Update

Thank you for listening to the update today on PBL.  Many of you are doing a good job of engaging students in ongoing projects that help support and solidify the learning in your classroom.  As I mentioned today, you might want to design and implement a mini-project that you have always wanted to do over these last several weeks. It may be an idea that you have had or you may want to start the conversation and let your students come up with an idea.  

Mr. Williams had a good point.  There are two notable fears that we have about doing PBL well.  One is that if we do not teach the basic skills, students will not have the skills needed to complete the project or perform on standardized testing which is 20% of the proposed evaluation system.  Keep in mind that 80% of the evaluation will be based on the SC Profile of a Graduate.  The other fear is giving up control of student learning and facilitating and coaching students rather than delivering information and hoping the students will remember. 

Below is a good video that I found on the BIE website that explains how to manage project based learning in the elementary classroom. 

Managing Projects in Elementary Schools

I believe that I have shared this before, but one of the most time consuming yet rewarding thing I did as an assistant principal at Windsor was involve six fourth grade boys in a picnic table building project. The make up of the group was mixed.  One was pretty strong in math, two or three were average, and two struggled academically and behaviorally. I guarantee they will always remember this experience (I know I will).  

The project was designed to teach them accuracy of linear measurement, angles, surface area, etc...  We wrote letters to Home Depot and got the materials for the first table donated.  The materials were dropped off in the courtyard and it was our job to inventory, read the directions, and assemble the table.  The first table was a struggle, but the fourth table was hugely successful.  

We would spend 10 to 15 minutes in a classroom talking about and practicing some of the algorithms needed to do what we needed to do that day and then go to work for about an hour.  We spent the last 10 to 15 minutes throwing the football.  I often heard from the teacher of these boys that they constantly connected what they were working on the in the classroom to the picnic table project. They are standing on the fourth table!!! 

I share this because I would never ask our teachers to do something that I have not or would not want to do in the classroom.  I miss the classroom and will always enjoy working with children to inspire them to be the best they can be.  In fact, I am looking forward to being involved in some of your projects next year.  ​
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