Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A PBL-Student is Born

    This week we have our Freshmen participating in their first "project."  Throughout the school freshmen students are learning the ins and outs of projects and they are seeing each teacher's take on what a project should look like. We all have the same terminology.  We all have the same pbl logistical items.  But the structure looks different from classroom to classroom.

    Even in my subject, Introduction to Engineering Design, the project looks different in my room than it does in my co-teacher's room down the hall.  And he and I get together at night and collaborate via Google IM, Facebook and Twitter.  Plus, we get together before school for 5 to 10 minutes to rehash our plans.

     To set the hook for every project, we start with a driving question and a entry event.  For this project we are examining the evolution of technology in the 20th century.  So, we start with a 4 minute video about the SX-70 camera.  The driving question is "How and why do products change over time?"

     What is the goal of this project?  There are many goals here.  Students need to learn how to work in groups and they need to learn how to use our computer system.  They need to understand how we organize resources in our "Project Briefcase."  They need to understand the typical flow during a class period and the classroom expectations.  And, they need to learn how to do a presentation.

     There are other things that the students learn throughout this week. But what I described is what we hope every student experiences during their first week of school.  They will have learned as much as possible about the logistics of being a PBL student.  That way they will be better prepared to handle a more in-depth project, with an increased level of expectation from the teachers, during the second round of projects.