Well my Year 9 class is almost at the end of their mini-PBL topic on earthquakes, and I feel like we’ve all learnt a massive amount. Tomorrow I look forward to seeing their final videos and showing their work to the whole class – I hope it’s very satisfying for them!
Inspired by reading Bianca’a post, I’ve definitely learned so much about how to implement PBL in the classroom – although, to be frank, it’s probably more what NOT to do. But that’s the way with anything new, as the first time is going to be a bit rough around the edges. I’m just proud that I gave it a go. Some of my take-home lessons:
- Students need structure and boundaries in which to be free to experiment. This includes clear expectations and guidelines about what to do and how to go about it. Too much freedom is dangerous for the first time at PBL, because it saps their initiative. The problem is working how much freedom is too much!
- Students need to buy into the task – if they couldn’t care less about what they’re doing, then why would they give it their best? I think this was alright with our unit but it wasn’t enough motivation for some of the groups.
- Planning, planning and more planning. This is something I could have done far better, as a lot of it felt haphazard at times. I must admit that the decision to use PBL for this part of our unit was made quickly and without a whole lot of preparation, which I will have to work on!
- Groups need to be chosen or formed carefully. Some groups are all leaders, whereas others are all followers. Neither works effectively, but how do you choose or let the students choose in order for it to work best? No clear answers on this one. We also had a number of setbacks with student being away and their group being (or at least feeling) unable to carry on with them away, because they had the equipment/files/whatever. This should be a bit more straightforward to address, as hopefully we can use the cloud to store their files so they can all access them from wherever.
- The students need regular deadlines and feedback points, which would help me to better keep track of where everyone is up to. It also gives them reminders to stay on task and keep the pace. I had one group who has done almost no work, while making it look like they were working. As you can appreciate, this is beyond frustrating but how can you motivate these students? Again, still no clear answers on this one.
Still looking to learn more and I can’t wait to implement the next one!