Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Project Based Learning Class Reflection

This is a cross post from PBL discussion forum:

This is my second year back in the classroom. I have to admit it hasn't been an easy ride. There are so many demands on us as teachers. I have dealt with relearning basic teaching strategies and engagement of students in my class. I recently joked with a teacher friend from Sacramento on how we are 70 percent counselors and 30 percent teachers. I have always had an interest in using technology as part of my teaching, even in the early days with Windows 95 and use of freeware. But, I always faced a dilemma; how do I use technology in a way that's more about learning and less about play?

I dabbled with web 2.0 tools in my classroom in the last school year or so. It wasn't until I was preparing for CUE (Computer Using Educators) conference that I got a boost to my teaching. I had done a whole lot in my own professional development and networking but little had made it back to my classroom. I came back with a lot of energy but without a plan. As I was walking the exhibit hall I ran across a book on Project Based Learning. It sounded kind of cool and I had a few extra bucks so I bought it. I have read most of now. By chance I got an email from John Rivera inviting me to an UPDATE class on PBL. I thought it was such a great opportunity. The book stresses that 21st Century Professional Development does not happen in isolation. It doesn't even happen between the walls of our own schools. It happens when we go outside our comfort zone.

Now 5 weeks later I feel a bit more prepared. Being able to explore content on the web and post reflections is a system that I have learned to make my own. The conversation happens when we respond to each other on the discussion forums. It would even be more authentic if we were to take these conversations outside this class to our own blogs and social networks. My next steps include planning at least 2 or 3 PBL's in my school year that integrate all curricular areas and showcase Web 2.0 technology tools. So, where are you going from here?


Mr. Sigler said...

PBL is very exciting. I think it is one of the best ways to teach. I have only one project that I do, so far. I would love to have a project each quarter that I teach by integrating Communication Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and technology. That's a pretty tall order, but I'll reach that goal someday. Someone an Ed Tech Talk chatroom said they teach their whole class with PBL. Wow, that would be great!
PBL also has variants like Problem Based Learning and Place Based Learning. All higher order thinking using authentic learning experiences. Great stuff!

Jose Rodriguez said...

Hi James,

Thanks for stopping by the Wooden Nickel. I agree that one project a quarter is challenge but, achievable. Anytime we can find a different way to engage our students we are better as teachers and learning is accessible at different levels for our students.