Perfectly describes my feelings this week. Yay! We did it! Our project is complete.
I really appreciated the peer review process we went through. I found it interesting when looking at the posts on the discussion threa. d that there was a common sentiment among many of us that "I am out of ideas, tweaks, fixes, etc." I felt the same way! I wordsmithed our project site for two straight days and still felt it could be better
I think when working so intensely on a project of this scale it is easy to miss an obvious mistake or omission. You have the vision, you know what you are imagining it looks like in practice, the challenge is creating a resource that is comprehensive enough to allow others to implement it who were not part of the creative process.
I have looked at several projects in progress over the last 9 weeks, but I have to say that the final products blew me away. I find myself wanting to be an 8th grade ELA teacher or a 10th grade science teacher just so I could have a chance to implement some of these amazing projects!
Thinking a lot about differentiation this week. Differentiation is one of those words, at least in my district, similar to progress monitoring or testing. It seems to have acquired a negative connotation, teachers hear differentiation and they hear "more work" or "I have to prepare 18 different lessons".
When thinking about how to add differentiation into our project I found myself thinking two things.
First, differentiation is not more work, it is simply what good teachers do, you get to know your students and you meet their needs.
Second, differentiation seems to be built into PBL. Student choice and an authentic, engaging driving question should inspire all learners to work at their level to answer the question. You, of course, would need to provide accommodations for students with skill gaps that would prevent them from accessing the information needed to work on the project.
THIS. WEEK. WAS A. LOT. OF. WORK.
I am incredibly thankful that I am collaborating with an amazing partner. I could not imagine being able to complete all of the work that we did this week by myself.
I think next time I create a PBL I will develop drafts of several of the documents that we were required to create this week much earlier in the process. Even if they change significantly as the project changes it would be much easier to have the frameworks ready to go. Although.... the next PBL I create probably will not be for a class and there for not driven by due dates.
A reflection on myself... I have always preferred to work independently on assignments and projects. I am too much of a "perfectionist". However, now that I have 2 small children, a husband, a job, and graduate school, I have had to relax quite a bit in order to maintain sanity and actually sleep. Collaborating on this project, especially virtually, with someone whose name I did not even know 12 weeks ago has been a surprisingly wonderful experience. While Karen and I were not always 100% on the same page we were always able to talk or chat our way to an agreement.
Creating our assessment plan was equally challenging and quite simple. I think for me the idea behind PBL is still a little disconnected from my grading (assessing learning) philosophy. When I think about grades, I think about 2-4 pieces of carefully chosen or created evidence that shows student progress toward a specific standard.
PBL, while clearly aligned to content standards, has a scope that it much broader. In my world, you would want to have an assessment or evidence piece for each of the standards incorporated into the PBL. That seems like it would take A LOT of fun out of the project. I guess my struggle is/was how do we create formative and summative assessments that address the progress toward and completion of the project goals and not just a single standard.
I LOVE the idea of incorporating PBL into my classroom. I think I would need to go through the process a couple of times though before I felt comfortable being able to pull my content standard grades out when appropriate while still allowing the project to open kids to 21st century and technology standards.
I really had no idea that there could be that many videos and articles out there about writing driving questions.
As I was watching the BIE webinar there was an example that was a project with a similar topic to ours and the driving question they used as an example stuck out to me. I quickly typed a version of what I was thinking onto the Google Doc Karen and I are using to collaborate and sent her a message telling her that I thought I had it! It was exciting! After a little feedback from Dr. Rice we changed our question slightly. Once we had that question, everything else just started to fall into place.
I tend to be a backwards by design type person. Show me an assessment and I will be able to create a unit that perfectly prepares students for that assessment. This PBL process is HARD, because that is not exactly how the process works. I posted in my discussion last week that I was overwhelmed and not really clear, but that I was willing to trust the process and continue to work through it as directed. I can see now that there is a method and it will work.
Karen and I have been excitedly collaborating on all aspects of the project. One thing I appreciate about the way things are set up is that even though we are creating and submitting items as we go along it is still understood to be a work in progress and is expected to be refined as the weeks go on. I am feeling pretty good about where we are at currently.
This was an interesting week. Karen and I began to explore the idea of a project based on sustainability a little more, but were really struggling with what the students would do, what would they produce, etc. Both of us were really hung up on what kind of driving question we could ask for that topic.
Then, Karen was given an opportunity to implement a grant that was given to a teacher in her school who has since decided to leave. The grant focused on using technology to explore statistics/math through the use of sports. The grant will still be implemented as planned, but we decided to base our PBL off of this idea. Sports and math. We are both really excited about it.
We set up our Weebly page. I talked her into using it over Google because I don't think Sites look "pretty" enough. Karen seems like she is going to be a great partner. I have never worked on a project this big with someone so far away, but thankful for the collaborative tools found in Google and Weebly both. Onto the driving question next week.
Again, this week I was overwhelmed by the vast amount of resources to explore. There were many, many PBL projects out these to review and evaluate. Some were great and met all of the criteria of the essential elements checklist and some were not so great. I am feeling a little intimidated by the entire scope of the project at this point.
I am planning to partner with a fellow classmate on the project, Karen Trivino. We have "chatted" via Google a little and think that it will be a good partnership. We teach similar grades and are interested in similar things. We are thinking of doing a project based around sustainability, but are not really sure where to start.
But in a good way. One of the things that surprised me the most this week was the incredible wealth of information available to understand, create, and support Project Based Learning. I enjoyed exploring the BIE website and gaining a much better understanding of the differences between Project Based Learning and Problem Based Learning.
In teaching math in my classroom, I almost always try to incorporate exploration into at least the introductions to a topic. I believe that students truly learn best when they are given the opportunity to solve a problem, persevere, and construct their own meaning. All along, I thought I was doing a sort of mini project based learning, but it was really more problem based learning.
I am looking forward to exploring others projects in week 2 and at this point have NO IDEA what I am going to do for my project!