Saturday, November 3, 2012

PBL Should Not be Done in A Vacuum

One of the most important skills students learn in PBL is collaboration.  It only follows that PBL teachers work best when they collaborate with their fellow teachers; with their friends; with their family; with social media friends; or with their students.

Each phase of the project planning works best with a partner.  For example, let's use the following list of project steps from the Buck Institute for Education:

   - Select your standards
   - Develop a Project Idea
   - Decide the scope of the project
   - Decide the 21st Century Skills to be taught/assessed  
   - Decide the Culminating Product

When you look at your standards that are coming up in your curriculum, what other subjects might have standards that are related?  If you are teaching Parent Functions, for example, maybe you could have your students create artwork from them and maybe one of your art teachers might have some standards related to that.  Or, maybe there is a school-wide art show that your students could enter their finished products.

Maybe your Science standards are related to alternative energy.  Can you enlist the help of your English  Language Arts teacher to help your students write editorials to your town's newspaper or to an alternative energy website?

Suppose you are planning to have your students create a "market" with your students buying and selling food using their Spanish (or other language) skills.  Do you have a culinary arts teacher to work with on this?  Or is there a farmer's market in town that you could actually set up a booth to make and sell foods from this country?  You could raise money for the Spanish Club or some charity organization.

The bottom line is don't do this alone.  Bounce ideas off of someone.  Brainstorm, as I tell my students, without any constraints.  Go wild with your ideas.  Then pull in the constraints that will affect every project: time, knowledge/skill level required, cost, and time.  Yes, time is an (the?) important constraint and can be the one key item that can kill an, otherwise, well thought out idea.  What are you waiting for?  Invite a friend to your local coffee shop and start brainstorming.