Essential question: What practical structures could we use to implement PBL (problem-based learning) in our classrooms?
This week on my Twitter feed 3 articles popped up about PBL. I figure this must be a sign that it is time to give it a test run. I have been interested in it but a little scared to try it. I am worried that there will not be enough of me to go around.
There are many definitions of PBL but I like this one the best: "PBL means learning through experiences" (Solomon, 2003). So my initial thought is what kind of experience do I want to give my students? The world is changing and so are the standards required of students and teachers. Markham (2013) states that "everyday there is less standardization of information, making it nearly impossible to decide what a tenth-grader should know," Our curriculums do fit with the outside world and this is why we need something like PBL.
What is so special about PBL? Simons (2006) says students must work through a problem before they learn all of the content. In doing this students are forced to find information out for themselves and they are required to figure out what they need to learning. This is a big change in education. Traditionally teachers have held the knowledge and they present it to students. Then students must learn this knowledge from the teacher.
A couple of the posts I found on Twitter led me to Edutopia. One article by Weyers (2016) talked about design thinking. I love this concept especially in a science classroom because it a process that I teach in class. Below is a graphic of the process. Students are first give an problem and then they create solutions using the process shown in the graphic. I really like this structure an think it would be very helpful for my students. My main concern is that we would struggle with prototypes due a difficulty in the ease of getting materials to a small village.
This video was really helpful to me because I was able to see what design thinking would look like in action. It was also great to hear students opinions on the work that they were doing. Due to both student and teacher optimism I really want to try to incorporate this into my final project.
The second post I read on Edutopia by Wolpert-Gawron (2015) was very cool considering out topic last week of including games in the classroom. This article talked about how to gamify a PBL unit. This requires a lot of planning. A teacher plans many tasks and then students work their way through them. A key aspect is that there is lots of student choice. Once one task is complete a new task opens up and students are rewarded for the content and skills they learn along the way. A site this teacher used is Rezzly for content delivery in the form of a game and Popplet to show students how they would progress through the lesson. I have never used either of these but am intrigued by both and wonder if I might be able to test either one in my final project?
So why do PBL? According to Jones (2006) some of the advantages of PBL include:
Ertmer, P. A., & Simons, K. D. (2006). Jumping the PBL implementation hurdle: Supporting the efforts of K–12 teachers. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 1(1), 5. Retrieved from: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu
Jones, R. W. (2006). Problem-based learning: description, advantages, disadvantages, scenarios and facilitation. Anaesthesia and intensive care,34(4), 485. Retrieved from: http://www.biomedsearch.com
Markham, T. (2013, May 20). Inquiry Learning Vs. Standardized Content: Can They Coexist? Retrieved March 04, 2016, from http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift
Solomon, G. (2003). Project-based learning: A primer. TECHNOLOGY AND LEARNING-DAYTON-, 23(6), 20-20. Retrieved from: http://pennstate.swsd.wikispaces.net
Weyers, M. (2016, February 18). Tools for Differentiating Instruction in PBL. Retrieved March 04, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org
Wolpert-Gawron, H. (2015, September 29). Project-Based Learning and Gamification: Two Great Tastes That Go Great Together. Retrieved March 04, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org