During our fifth week in Technology-Supported Project-Based Learning, we were to further delve into Project-Based Learning and explore managing the process of our project and help us tie loose ends like technology, differentiated instruction, and reflection methods. We were to:
- Read & review various resources on managing the process
- Develop our Products and Performances page with information on our Culminating Activity, Assessment for my Culminating Activity, & Reflection Methods
- Develop our Teaching and Learning Guide with information on Differentiated Instruction & Technology Support
- Reflect on criticism & rationale for implementing PBL by considering the following questions:
- What are some potential criticisms that you might receive from administrators, parents, and colleagues?
- How will you respond to those criticisms?
- What rationale can you give for incorporating PBL into your repertoire of effective instructional strategies?
- Reflect on the change in our role of a teacher & the skills of an effective facilitator by considering the following questions:
- Will my role in the teaching/learning process change?
- What are the skills of effective facilitation?
- Will the students develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful?
- What changes will you need to make in order to become an effective facilitator in your PBL unit?
Criticism & responses upon implementing PBL:
Upon implementing PBL there may be some push back from administrators and parents concerned with student evaluation. The grading system is different in project based learning because worksheets & traditional evaluation methods (quizzes & tests) are eliminated from the picture. Parents may also be concerned with differentiation. The response from the teacher to this push back could be that students are instead being evaluated based on long-term learning and teacher evaluation is included in summative and formative formats. The teacher could then show the administrator and parents the rubrics and additional evaluation methods in place and assure that the teacher will be facilitating and therefore conducting a lot of interviews and check-ins that could include running records. The teacher could demonstrate how differentiation is included in the planning process to ensure all learner’s needs are being met. Criticism from colleagues could include that students are not “learning” the curriculum and that the teacher is not “working” and “teaching” or addressing the standards because teaching in the PBL world looks very different than in the traditional classroom. The response from the teacher could be to invite colleagues to familiarize themselves with project-based learning and the extensive efforts that go into planning projects to ensure standards are being addressed. The teacher could also educate their colleagues on the role of the teacher in a student directed environment vs a teacher-directed environment and the benefits of letting students explore. Finally, the colleagues class could come see the final presentations (if applicable) to understand the depth of knowledge the students acquire through PBL.
Rational for implementing PBL:
Project Based Learning (PBL) changes the role of the educator from one of a teacher to a facilitator, but it also changes the role of the students. In PBL students are much more engaged because they are in the driver seat to learn in practice and applicability through projects with real life connections, not just theory. Since the classroom environment changes from a rigid format to a more open and flexible learning space, it allows students to feel comfortable asking questions, making mistakes, solving problems, and finding connections between what they are doing in the classroom and the real world. Project based learning creates an environment where students enjoy learning & that is always the goal of a classroom teacher!
The teacher’s & student’s role in PBL & effective facilitation:
In Project Based Learning, the role of the teacher moves from one of a vessel of knowledge to that of a facilitator of knowledge. The students role in learning changes from a dictated learning of concepts and regurgitation of information to an inquiry process. In this process, students base their learning on driving questions and often times develop further questions along the process. This teaches students and teachers that learning is a fluid continuous lifelong process. In order for the teacher to be an effective facilitator, they need to a person who:
- Is a great, detailed and thorough planner
- Frames the learning effectively by having thorough plans
- Works on Idea development and sparking student interest & creativity
- Is constantly scheduling consultation & allowing continuous revision
- Provides opportunities for self and peer feedback
- Organizes a presentation for the school or community
If the teacher follows through with their role as a facilitator and ensures that they have planned extensively the entire project and all of the components students will develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful. This is because great care has been taken by the instructor to ensure all of the details, possible hurdles, and extensions have been thoroughly analyzed and preplanned.
Myself as an effective facilitator in this project:
In order for me to become an effective facilitator in my PBL unit, I have already gotten started down the right path by ensuring that I have thoroughly analyzed all aspects of the project and have planned each component extensively. Furthermore, upon teaching, I will need to practice playing the role of a facilitator and not giving students the answers to all of their problems but instead letting them truly learn by using inquiry by posing a question back at them to extend their critical thinking. I will also need to be sure that I’m making myself available as a mentor and guide for their learning by providing opportunities for reflection and revision throughout the project.
Reflection of Learning: This assignment required me to delve into several articles and websites to develop a thorough understanding of effective implementation of Project-Based Learning. I got the experience to analyze several articles with information and opinions on teacher’s roles in PBL. Then I viewed many examples of teachers teaching PBL to be able to conduct an indepth analysis of my own role in my project. Finally, I synthesized the information I learned to decide upon my role as a facilitator of PBL.
- AECT Standard 4.3 Reflection on Practice: To further delve into effective implementation of project-based learning and identify the role of a facilitator in PBL, I needed to analyze and interpret various examples and reflect on the effectiveness of their design to enhance my own project.