Category Archives: Ed Tech 542

A Reflection on PBL

Reflections on my learning….

What I now understand best about Project Based Learning is that there needs to be some sort of public (the more you can involve the community the better) exhibition of the project, whether that is a presentation or demonstration.  I also learned more about the evaluation and reflection piece. I especially liked the Critical Friend Tuning constructive critiques.  

What I would like to learn more about is how to involve the community when resources are very limited. This might be an opportunity for e-pals of some sort. I also know I could stand to learn better time management and pacing. It seems like I either allot too much time or under estimate the time a project will take.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this course. I have developed a better understanding of the intricacies of project planning and development. I have used PBL type activities over the years but never had any specific class or training. So this was very helpful.  

From this course I learned the steps in sequential planning in developing a project.  The most important thing I gleaned from this process is that PBL is more than having a project that meets academic and 21st century standards. There are essential elements that must be included: Students have to engage in an in-depth inquiry into an essential or driving question, have a choice is what they produce to demonstrate learning, have some sort of public forum for presentations, and there needs to be an opportunity to revise products and reflect on the learning.

Now that I am back in the classroom, I will take what I learned from this class along with the resources I gathered to continue designing and implementing projects in my classes.

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Posted by on August 1, 2013 in Ed Tech 542


PBL – the role of facilitator

One of the greatest challenges for an instructor in a PBL unit is to adapt to the role of facilitator. This week my assignment was to reflect on the following questions:
·         Will my role in the teaching/learning process change? I view my role of teacher as that of a facilitator to act as a guide for the students not some talking know-it-all in the front of the class. Of course there are times when the teacher does need to provide whole group instruction but not all class period everyday! I don’t see my role changing a lot, as this has been my general style of teaching for many years.
·         What are the skills of effective facilitation? Time, team, and classroom management skills are all critical in order to keep everything moving and organized, all while letting the students “manage” their own learning. Good questioning skills are also important; you need to guide the students through a questioning process instead of just telling them what to do next. You also need to be able to gauge where your students are at in the learning process. Do they need you to take a step back or speed things up?
·         Will the students develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful? Yes! While they may not all reach the same level of mastery, they will develop the skills necessary to be successful. The only obstacles  to them succeeding are if they don’t come to class or do the work (students cannot learn if they are not present physically or mentally).
·         What changes will you need to make in order to become an effective facilitator in your PBL unit? I will need to do better with time management, have more structured check points, and continue to use formative assessments to guide the pacing.

PBL Assessments

This week’s post is about how the assessments I planned for my PBL project meets the key requirements for effective assessments. One of the tasks this week was to create a rubric as part of the overall assessment plan. This worked for me, as rubrics are my preferred measurement tool. The reasons I like rubrics so much is that they provide students with clear-cut guidelines/expectations for each criteria, reduce subjectivity in grading, and can be used by both teachers and students to assess work. They also streamline grading. I mistakenly thought it would be easy to design one for my project since I am familiar with several rubric generators and knew what I wanted students to be able to demonstrate at the end of the unit. The truth is, it was a little daunting making sure each standard and skill was fully addressed.

The project I am working on is a marketing project that incorporates language arts standards and a variety of tech tools. It is intended to be team-taught with a language arts and a computer applications teacher. Students will have the opportunity to use tech tools in “real-world” applications to create a marketing solution to a problem. What I like about creating a project is that you have the liberty of determining how students will  demonstrate learning and tailor your instruction to fit the audience. This is what I kept in mind as I selected the various assessments.  I like what many may consider backward design, creating assessments before content, for several reasons. 
  1. Knowing what you will assess makes designing lessons easier. You know what students will need to have mastered at the end of the unit rather than coming to the end and trying to throw an assessment together. 
  2. As the designer, you get to decide the standards and what students need to produce or demonstrate to show mastery. You are not locked into a publisher’s notion of what  or how to assess. 
  3. When you have a summative assessment to work from, there is more accountability in the instructional process.
  4. Having formative assessments built in helps monitor how students are progressing. These checkpoints provide opportunities to celebrate successes while identifying when re-teaching and enriching is needed. 
  5. Using multiple measures allows students to demonstrate learning in a variety of ways and provides documentation of student growth.
While I can design the summative assessment for the project and the formative assessments for non-academic standards, unfortunately the majority of the formative academic assessments are set by the school district. So, I will have to work them into the plan. While I did create the rubric for the summative assessment, the peer and self assessments are not complete. I want student input before finalizing them, even though I have an fairly good idea of what the assessment needs to look like. 


Visual Project Organizer for the Driving Question

What I gathered from this we is writing the driving question sets the foundation for the project and the essence or what you will assess. The subsequent questions guide the students progress by asking key open-ended questions. I can see the need to revise and add to the list of questions as students begin working on the project, keeping in mind they aren’t assessments but prompts to keep the students moving through the process of creating the end product.


Click on the link for a larger version Driving Question for The Case of the Ooze