Project Based Learning is a process where teachers are not meant to work as the expert. They are there to facilitate students through a process of learning. Through the 542 course, I have been developing a PBL unit for my classroom next year. I have also had the opportunity to test some of the parts of the unit, in a club.
We were asked to review several PBL units that were published online, and to view several webpages, including:
Identify some common features among projects that you examined.
PBL projects were student centered, with a teacher working in more of a mentor role.
Projects had a published product as a component, such as a blog, video, presentation.
Support within the community / school.
Curriculum connections across multiple areas within the school.
Share one PBL project that you were able to locate during your search.
Where News Happens is a PBL unit that speaks to me, within my context of my school. As current events have shown, many people do not have great skills at understanding the difference between real news, with proper sources, and fake news. There have been attacks on the media by the government.
‘Where News Happens’ is a Middle School English PBL unit, which looks to have students look at news articles that interest them from their community or a region that they are interested in. They look at the differences of opinion that are expressed, and form their own opinions on their own blogs.
Explain why you like this project, and how you might be able to adapt it for your own use.
I like this project, in that it looks to push students to form opinions. I look to adapt this in another way. My principal is interested in having our school to have a short, school and local news video program, created by students across grade levels. I have been asked to create a course for students for next year on this topic. I look at this ‘Where News Happens’ PBL unit, and see ways that it could be adapted to suit this need.
With the president’s attacks on mainstream media, it would be valuable for students to have a better understanding of what it takes to report facts and opinions. Not getting political here, just showing that an appreciation can be formed by students for the work that the media should do, and the difference between fake and real news.
I came across this website, that helps to talk through some concerns, including technical, with creating school announcements. It looks like a good resource, especially for someone who has little experience in working in video.
There are lots of items to consider, but the problems I am coming across at this time is with our school schedule. It is very difficult to start a multiple grade level subject, and find a time where students can all meet. As the school is currently trying to get a ‘soft’ opening of the project, we are starting with an after school club.
Questions to consider when thinking about your project idea:
- What do you want to accomplish through your PBL unit?
For me, I was looking to fill a school need. My school community needs another venue for showing what it does well, to remind students that people can succeed in different ways.
- What do your students need to learn?
My students need to learn to collaborate. How to lead. How to ask questions, and finally, how to develop an idea of quality.
- What will your students know and what will they be able to do?
There are many qualities that I would look to generate as we move forward, but the goals here will always be about helping students understand what makes the news important. There will always be different technologies to learn, and skills to grow, but understanding why people care about topics, and build empathy for the people involved is vital.
Some questions you may want to ask yourself as you begin planning:
- What do your students know at the present and what is important for them to learn next?
- What skills would benefit them most at the moment?
- Are they ready to take on a project?
- Can they manage themselves?
- Has your class developed a sense of shared values & standards that will provide them the foundation for a good project?
- Are you and your students operating as a leaning community?