Thursday, June 14, 2012

Students Thrive on Cooperation and Problem Solving!

“Good projects engage students on their own need to know in tackling complex problems and working in teams to generate solutions, products, and presentations.” – Bob Pearlman

This article provided me with a lot more insight as to what Project Based Learning is and how it works.  After initially hearing about PBL, I just assumed that it simply including more activities to spice things up, but really it is a whole new level, requiring students to think even deeper and engage in more rigorous and complex problem solving.  I loved the approach by the New Technology High School in Napa, CA:

·         To learn collaboration, work in teams.
·         To learn critical thinking, take on complex problems.
·         To learn oral communication, present.
·         To learn written communication, write.
·         To learn technology, use technology.
·         To develop citizenship, take on civic and global issues.
·         To learn about careers, do internships.
·         To learn content, research and do all of the above.

Breaking down the elements of PBL like this really makes it easier to comprehend and feel more attainable to the “average” educator.  Providing opportunities for fantastic projects and engaging collaboration isn’t enough though – students (like anyone else) need constant, real-time assessment and feedback.  As a teacher, if we expect students to be engaged and to direct/monitor their learning then we need to be willing and able to provide them with this type of feedback; it will also create more accurate assessments for us.  The article has a great point – “globalization is flattening the world” and our students are going to need a lot more than the traditional academic subjects to be successful in the long run.

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