Hello from Spain. Nice to meet and share this course with you all. I teach English at a High School in the north of Spain. Our students are 12-18 and in the last three years I have also taught older students at two Vocational Tourism Courses.
Good Luck and best wishes!
This is my High School. Our students are 12-18 and we have got two Tourism vocational courses where I teach English. My lessons are geared to simulate real life situations where my students will have to use English so that they will feel confident when facing them in real life. Although I usually try to design multiple varied activities, it is a traditionally-orientated teaching
As I read the article Main Course Not Dessert by BIE what it is clear is that I have only proposed my students simple projects but I am eager to learn more about how to develop “main course” ones which sound much more challenging. Critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and several ways of communication. I wonder how my students will take the challenge. What seems clear is that I’ll have to devote a while to think and consider what this way of teaching may bring about.
1.3 P2P - Reflections on our current teaching practice.
Why you think PBL is not used more widely in our education systems? 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?
When I come to think of the difficulties we face to put this kind of teaching going I agree that is the way we were taught to do things, the need to follow the subject institutional program and also an irrational fear the lessons may get out of control. But I must say that whenever I have tried to present “a bit different” activities something most students are generally ready to actively participate and collaborate- most of them not all of them of course! I have the feeling that with PBL the lectures could be more challenging and entertaining. So we could always give as a try and find out if this method is more effective. Another thing will be how to come about that interesting Driving Questions to get them motivated enough.
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?
As we have an institutional program to follow, our teaching is usually based on a book method which usually provides a wide range of activities you can adapt to the students characteristics. Some groups allow you to be more creative than others. I usually design two or three different activities related to a determined topic and the grammar point they are learning. We do some speaking based on a reading or listening, we learn some vocabulary or revise it and sometimes we do the workbook at the end of the lesson, which students end at home if they can’t finish it at school.
With my students at the Tourism Vocational courses the strategy is different and we do some role-plays and real simulations, mini projects they have to share with their classmates and presentations. The aim is that they learn as many vocabulary related to hospitality, tourism and leisure as possible. We also watch videos related to promoting tourist products.
We normally do some kind of test, an exam, an essay, an oral presentation where they can apply the things they have learnt at the lesson every three weeks more or less and of course revision and feedback.
The classes I teach are very different. Some students are very active and interested in learning while others are obliged to be at school and are highly reluctant to any kind of learning so I am always thinking about how to engage them and enjoy participating in the lesson activities. I am not always successful.
PBL approach could implement and challenge them into more effective learning. I reckon doing this kind of project would attract their attention, motivate them and make them see a more practical way of learning. They would have to make use and agglutinate their previous knowledge to produce something new while acquiring or improving some of other necessary useful skills. The final product they will achieve will be something tangible they may be proud of. They have always been proud of their final products whenever we have engaged in minor kind of projects.
For my younger students who are 14 I would like them to reflect on active healthy lifestyle to combat children’s and teenagers’ obesity.
For my tourism vocational students I would like them to think about how to promote and increase tourism in our area. O how to make our city more attractive to young people by proposing different leisure activities to enjoy in their free time.
1.3 Components of Good PBL
There are many challenges I’d have to face if I used the PBL teaching method. My students would show real enthusiasm to try something different especially if I manage to attract their attention and motivate them with an attractive challenge more related to real life than the simulations we normally assume to practice English. They would need lots of encouragement when facing problems and another thing is the structured collaboration as they don’t usually work in groups but individually or in pairs. But the real difficulty would be to deal with the curriculum program and the scheduled periods of assessment. We would have to think and consider these and some other things.
I consider the five key elements are challenging and stimulating enough for me and my students as real world connection provides authenticity and a new approach to their learning, core to learning would make us consider the whole process from a different perspective to adequate the new focus on what skills they need to learn and achieve. The structured collaboration will require to organize part of the process beforehand and I think they will become more responsible as they assume an active attitude and implication to be part of the group working together.
What it seems a bit of a difficulty is to adopt new rubrics to mark their process of learning but eventually we all get used to doing things in a different way.
1.6 P2P - Your PBL Design: Formulating your driving question
Next September a group of 15 students from Ireland are visiting our High School and staying with some of our student’s families for a week. We need to organize the visit to make it as successful as possible. We need to design a complete program for the whole week: an attractive sightseeing itinerary to show them our historical city, other places to visit in the region, different kind of activities to do, what to eat, special celebrations to attend …
Let’s our Irish mates make the most of their visit to Avilés, our city.
Subjects: History, English, ICT , Arts , Tourist guides and PE
Topic: A memorable school trip for our Irish mates.
Think about their own environment- their neighbourhood, city and region from a different perspective to promote its strengths and try to meet its weakness
Design a pack of activities including some sports and gastronomy and cultural event, excursions, sightseeing, leisure periods, shopping,… to organized what to do.
Discuss the price, the time, compare alternatives, … and reach agreements for the final product.
Take decisions and design the final program