In July, I wrote a blog and shared ideas on culture-building projects you could do at the beginning of the school year. Since my last blog, our school launched and just finished our own culture-building project. It started with the Entry Event. The flyer we gave to students was meant to imitate a race flyer.
Voice and choice is an important part of project based learning that often gets overlooked for various reasons related to the way a majority of schools function. Voice and choice happens in a classroom when the teacher gives up the leadership of the lessons and projects to students, allowing them to design their own projects that show off their learning in unique and individual ways. Oftentimes, this does not happen in the maximum capacity that it could because we as teachers are often reluctant to let go of the control of the project and let students take over for themselves.
If you have taken a glance at a calendar lately, you will notice that the summer is passing quickly. Have you thought about how you are going to start your school year? We know that it is best practice to train the students on your expectations for a successful classroom as you begin the year. One of the practices I have found successful during my 8 years of facilitating a PBL classroom is to begin the year with a culture-building project. Basically you use a PBL project to teach the expectations and basics of your classroom process.
The six years of teaching in a traditional school before crossing over to PBL taught me many lessons. One of the most important was that no matter how well prepared I was, how many bullet points I used on my handout, how many questions I anticipated, I still did not know the answers to all of the inquiries my students would make on the day I introduced a new project.
Are you new to Project Based Learning (PBL)? Are you wondering where to even begin? This was me not so long ago. In my personal experience, my PBL training was a very overwhelming process. I felt like my brain was on overload with all of the information being thrown at me. I remember going in with a project idea and leaving with the realization that my project was not quite a PBL unit, but not sure how to change it. If you are currently going through training and experiencing some of the same feelings, I have 3 questions that you can ask yourself to help you get started.