Saturday, April 11, 2015

Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Chapter 12

I'm being real for a moment, I was a little intimidated to learn that I was hosting the link up for this chapter.  After reading, I still didn't feel exactly clear about what problem based learning is, and if I was actually doing ANY of it in my classroom.  Maybe it's just me, but problem/project based learning sounds so official, and kind of serious/fancy.  After studying the chapter further, and...GOOGLING (yes, I googled it.  I *may* have even searched it on pinterest, too)...I realized that PBL is something that I have done, and continue to do as much as I can--I just didn't know it!

Marcia Tate describes project or problem based learning as interdisciplinary.  Learning is integrated into all aspects of the curriculum, and it is purposeful and student-led.

I love using unit topics (science/social studies) to create exciting and meaningful learning experiences  for my students.  One of my favorite projects ever was actually during my student teaching experience.  As a community/service learning project for social studies, I had my students brainstorm ways they could help out in the community.  After lists of ideas and class discussions, we voted on creating a school-wide teddy bear drive for the children at a local women & children's shelter.  The students were completely in charge of  advertising--creating posters to put on display around the school and flyers to send home with all classes--(writing & language standard...check!)  In addition to teddy bears, we also decided that we would accept monetary donations for people who didn't have time to shop for a bear.  Each morning, students were responsible for counting the money and stuffed toys collected--(math standard...check!)  The students were excited that they were contributing to people who were in need, and they were so engaged in the project, that I never once heard, "I don't know what to write."  Or,  "Do we HAVE to do this math?" One of my sweet girls brought in all the money she had in her piggy bank to donate.  Precious.

By the end of the two week project, we delivered 500 bears and $250 cash to a local shelter.  After we were done, many students were already busy brainstorming other projects they could do to help others.   Typing this now, I am wondering why I haven't done MORE projects like these.  It makes learning fun, and it was just good for the soul!

Although I am a fan of PBL, I think where I struggle is letting the students take more control during activities and projects (I'm a control freak!  WHO KNEW!???  HA!!!!!!)  Especially in first grade.  The project I did with the bears was a 3rd grade class.  I felt a little more comfortable giving tasks to the older ones.  I loved the suggestion on page 90 about sentence starters to help with student discussions while solving problems.

Like I said, I googled the PBL.  (Please don't laugh at me!  I really wanted to be a good linky host!)  I found this great video on Edutopia.  It helped me to see that PBL can be planned, but it can also happen naturally....for example, when I get those awesome "teachable moments"--I should take advantage of them, and allow them to develop into project based experiences.

Please share your thoughts on this chapter, and link up!


Cecelia said...

Thank you for your raw honesty! It is so refreshing to know that an amazing teacher like you may not understand a term--or may worry that you didn't do project based learning.
Wait until you've been teaching as long as me! We hear these new fancy terms and think we don't have a clue only to discover we've been doing it for decades!!

Sara J said...

I was right there with you. Did I do this in the classroom? Isn't it designed more for older kids? I focused more on the problem solving portion in my blog post instead. Thanks for hosting!!

Sara J Creations

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