Project Based Learning Cimy's Learning Diary for SchoolEducationGateway June/July 2016
My name is Laura Cimetta and I'm a teacher of English as a Second Language. I teach language & literatures at Liceo Linguistico "M.Grigoletti" in Pordenone, a pretty small town in the North East of Italy. I've been teaching for 30 years and I still love it! The quotation by B.Franklin's been my favourite for decades, since I embraced a Humanistic Approach to my teaching. I always gave my students a paper with those lines the first day of school, what a coincidence! I graduated at Udine University and during my life I also lived in Dublin (Ireland) for two unforgettable years. My passions are several and I can mention just a few: my schnauzer Dream, photography ( I loved taking pictures of the Irish skies and joined a camera Club there), poetry, travelling around the world, teaching (Yes!), learning, reading, music (couldn't live without!), going to concerts, watching good movies & yoga. I'm only sorry that a day is made of 24 hours because I'd need more to do well everything I'm interested in.
After reading the above chart I've realized that somehow I've already done PBL - I share defined rubrics, constantly give the students choice, use digital tools chosen by students, ask them to present their work to a real audience - but now I know what I'll have to do to improve: above all I need a TEAM of colleagues that is the most difficult element to find. Then, I definitely need to work on "real"world problems although I now find it difficult when I teach literature. Last but not least I have to practice the Driving Question.
Why do you think PBL is not used more widely in our education systems? I think the problem with the Italian High School system is that we are not used to working in teams and, as a matter of fact, in a Liceo Linguistico there are something like 12 subjects and is therefore hard to synchronize all colleagues and find the time to work together on a "real" project.
What is stopping us from achieving what is outlined in the video? What are the biggest challenges we as educators face and who is stopping us from adopting the PBL approach in our classrooms? I honestly believe that what is stopping us from adopting the PBL in our classrooms is the fear of "not having enough time" because most of the teachers are not willing to question their traditional methods and do not want to share their lessons with the others, nor find the time to analyze and try new approaches.
This video by Edutopia is so clear and engaging, a real eye-opener! In lots of schools students are still considered as sponges to be filled. I've never regarded teaching as the "filling of a vase but rather the sparkling of a fire", therefore I've always followed Edutopia with great interest and have never been disappointed. For sure PBL well integrates with the Humanistic Approach I've chosen.
I will find Real World Connection the most challenging and demanding for me to realize because I teach Literature and have been used to taking for granted that a certain degree of "abstraction" is a natural feature of appreciating poetry. Not everything should necessarily be "useful" to daily life; human beings read poetry because it's "beautiful" because it gives emotions and satisfies the senses. Still it's true that in order to interest, involve and engage teenagers it's imperative and vital to find a "connection" to their lives. I'm looking forward to learning how to do it in my subject!
The following video is an example of a CREATIVE ACTIVITY carried out in my 11th grade where the students - in this case led by Beatrice - after reading the novel "Face" by B.Zephaniah, wrote the lyrics of a song inspired by the main character and then made the video. The musician at the guitar is Beatrice's father. I consider this a successful example of the 5 KEYS mentioned above.
MY REFLECTIONS ON MY TEACHING PRACTICE: What teaching strategy do you use most commonly? What do YOU do most of the time in the classroom? What do the students do most of the time? Do you feel your current approach could be easily complemented with a PBL approach? Do you sometimes have the problem that students don't remember what they "learned" the day before? How do you address this? Do you already use some of the PBL approaches mentioned in the video? What works, doesn't work? Why? How do you find out about your student needs and how do you incorporate this knowledge in your teaching? Finish your reflection by identifying a class and a subject topic that you teach which you can use to experiment with PBL
Well, I've been experimenting the FLIPPED CLASSROOM for a few years now and, since I teach English language and literature I share my materials with the students using my Blog, the LMS Schoology and GoogleDocs. In class we work in groups, in a BYOD mode and I'm very fortunate 'cause I have my own classroom that I share with a dear colleague and friend of mine Cristiana. The students are always given a "CHOICE" as regards activities and tools to use. We devote the class time to discuss, do creative writing and presentations. As a teacher I'm their "guide" and help them if they want to. My approach could be easily complemented with a PBL approach and I tried already one on Human Rights.(see link). In Italy we call it Unità di Apprendimento. The problem that some of my students don't "remember" what they previously learnt or better say, studied, the day before in theory should be addressed by assigning topics "relevant" and "meaningful" to them. On the other hand I also admit that, since they have 5 subjects per day to study - 10 subjects all in all including Italian literature, German, Spanish, Philosophy, History, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, History of Art - and some of them are just "notions" to memorize, I guess it's human that their minds get overloaded and they forget. For sure if we teachers collaborated and cooperated more and better, the students "deep acquisition" would benefit but involving my colleagues is, for me, much harder than involving the most reluctant student! I'd like to experiment a PBL with my 4th Liceo Linguistico with a Literary topic.
MY DRIVING QUESTION: How might we redesign our literature course to better meet your needs by creating an e-book relevant to your life and fun?
MODULE 2. Developing effective collaboration for PBL
COMING TOGETHER IS A BEGINNING, KEEPING TOGETHER IS PROGRESS, WORKING TOGETHER IS SUCCESS
Just like the pebbles and stones by the sea
2.2 What is effective collaboration? First of all, remember that a key goal of PBL is not the project but rather the process of building the project. Learning happens while working on the project. And one of the key things students should be learning as part of this process is effective collaboration. Therefore let's briefly look at what collaboration is and isn't.
REFLECTION: Which people from your community you or your students could engage with? I'm so grateful to this course because it has sparkled my creativity and boosted my enthusiasm up to the stars. I've been involved for several years now in the project "School goes to Hospital" working as a volunteer with the students who are undergoing chemo treatments at the Cancer Clinic CRO in Aviano. The purpose behind it is to allow those young kids and teenagers not to fail the school year or better say to give them a purpose to focus on something else rather than their illness. During this school year the students of my town Pordenone have launched a fund-raising for that AREA GIOVANI and also organized a march around town to raising awareness among people. It was such a great success! Which means that when young people are involved in a meaningful good cause they give their heart and soul. Now I'm thinking of engaging the local Rotaract that launched the project among teachers, the Area Giovani of the CRO Hospital & also sports organizations. The goal will be to implement or improve communication in English via web to be used by those student-patients to improve and support their studying while far away from home. (It's a work in progress)!!
MODULE 3 DEVELOPING STUDENT-DRIVEN ACTIVITIES FOR PBL
IT'S NOT THAT I'M SO SMART, IT'S JUST THAT I STAY WITH PROBLEMS LONGER Albert Einstein
Next to developing collaborative skills of students, another key part of PBL is for students to take ownership of tasks, initiative at solving problems, and most importantly to stick with these tasks and problems until they have come to a satisfactory conclusion. In other words, we try to develop a student-driven environment in which the energy and persistence of what is happening in the classroom does not primarily come from us but from the students. Albert Einstein's quote above captures one of the key essences of this module: getting students' to develop grit and resilience to stay with a problem or project even though they have failed previously is one the most difficult parts of PBL and at the core of developing a student-driven environment. As an example and at a quite simple level, when students work for the first time in a group as part of PBL, the first attempts at collaboration might not be successful. It is essential that students don't become frustrated and demotivated but rather excited and motivated to try again and improve, again and again and again. Creating an environment that allows and promotes this, is what the module is all about." All this is so true and so important in my own experience too.
DEVELOPING STUDENTS' RESILIENCE
It comes from the Latin resilire, “to bounce back”. Resilience refers to the capacity to return to good mental health after challenging and difficult situations. It is not one specific thing, but a combination of skills and attributes that help to solve problems, cope with challenges, adapt and bounce back when things don´t go as planned. Resilient people learn from their mistakes, they look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth.
Building my PBL Learning Design. For this module I' going to add TLAs (Teaching and Learning Activities) to my Design, with a focus on scaffolding for student independence and ownership, building resilience and an entrepreneurial mindset in general.
After adding these TLAs your Design should ideally provide opportunity for students
- to identify the questions they would like to pursue (within the context of your Driving Question)
- to make choices on all key project-related aspects such as resources used, products created, use of time, etc.
- to take significant responsibility and work independently from the teacher, but with guidance if necessary
- to reflect during the project about their own work and learning
THE ROOT OF THE WORD "ASSESSMENT" IS FROM THE LATIN "ASSIDERE" WHICH MEANS "TO SIT BESIDE"
As the quote above suggests, assessment should be about "sitting beside someone", providing feedback and helping them to improve. Assessment should not only be about giving a grade at the end but it should be an on-going process, where teachers and students alike assess their learning as they work on the projects. However, as most of you will work in environments where you'll have to give students a grade at the end of the year, we will also look at some techniques and tools that can help you with this.
The learning objectives for this module are:
- Understanding the difference between formative and summative assessment
- Understanding how assessment can be embedded into PBL activities
- Understanding what a rubric is and why it can help us assess PBL
- Develop a finalised and rigorous PBL implementation Learning Design
WHAT IS PEER ASSESSMENT? Peer assessment is simply a matter of students giving informed feedback to one another on an assignment. Effective peer assessment is related to clear standards and is supported by a constructive process of critique. Peer assessment is a valuable tool because feedback from peers can be delivered with more immediacy and in greater volume than teacher feedback. Peer assessment should happen during the learning process, on works-in-progress, and be followed by opportunities for students to use the feedback they received to revise their work.
WHAT IS NOT PEER ASSESSMENT? Peer assessment is not a process by which peers determine grades for one another. Although some teachers have had success with peer grading, turning peer assessment into peer evaluation is risky and may lead to negative attitudes toward the peer assessment process. In general, peers provide feedback; teachers provide grades.
MY REFLECTIONS: I found this document very interesting and inspiring and kept me focused on the real essence of Peer assessment. I've been using Peer Assessment for years and I am convinced that students most of the times are very honest and lucid when it comes to highlighting someone else's work strengths & weaknesses. I've never had problems in using this kind f assessment. I usually provide students with Rubrics and they discuss in groups. Then I give them my feed-back on their assessment and most of the times it's more positive than their own ;). Anyway, this LADDER OF FEEDBACK is awesome and had never considered its visual impact until now. Thanks again!
4.4 Creating & Using Rubrics for PBL Assessment
Rubrics are grading tools that can be used for summative as well as formative assessment and they are also a very useful tool to help students with self- and peer assessment. While they can be used for grading, they should in fact be seen as a learning resource that is used by students throughout their work. Rubrics lend themselves especially well for PBL because they can capture a complex range of criteria in an organized and clear way.
Well it's time to say goodbye & I'm grateful to all the people who took part in planning this awesome MOOC but also to the committed colleagues - like you who're now reading and reached the end of my Learning Diary - for the new insights they've given me.
Why this green waterfall? Well, because its waters are full of energy & refreshing but will all merge, flow into a deeper & wider lake and come together, eventually. Green as a wish for cascades of successful new PBL spreading all around the world!
Dear Laura, I'm Alice Cabrelle and I'm going to review your LD but first I want to say how much I loved your Learnind Diary: I've so much to learn from you, I added it in my bookmark and I'm also going to contact you on facebook. If you want, you can find my Learning Diary https://tackk.com/xt8rv8 and I'd really appreciate a feedback about my LD from you. Going to my peer review...The project is focused on teaching students specific and important knowledge, understanding, and skills derived from standards and central to academic subject areas. Important success skills are explicitly targeted to be taught and assessed. The project is focused on a central problem or question, at the appropriate level of challenge. The central problem or question is framed by a driving question for the project, which is:- open-ended; it will allow students to develop more than one reasonable answer. - understandable and inspiring to students. - aligned with learning goals; to answer it, students will need to gain the intended knowledge, understanding, and skills. Inquiry is sustained over time and academically rigorous and it is driven by student-generated questions throughout the project. The project has an authentic context, involves real-world tasks, tools, and quality standards-Students have opportunities to express voice and choice on important matters and they have opportunities to take significant responsibility. Students and teachers engage in thoughtful, comprehensive reflection about what and how students learn. Students are provided with opportunities to give and receive feedback about the quality of products and work-in-progress. Student work is made public only to classmates and the teacher.Your work is excellent and inspiring!!! Thank you Alice