Dabbling with PBL

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I have started to do project based learning with my students, and it has been a huge success.

Last year, I was so intimated by doing projects with my students. My decision to do these projects has required the following:

1. I have to believe in my ability to manage the execution of the project. 
2. I have to believe in my students’ ability to complete the project. 

I struggled with both of these beliefs last year. The thought of managing a project made my head spin, as I did not believe my students could do it. I imagined an endless flow of questions coming from my students accompanied with a drop in class morale when they realized they could not do it. This is exactly what happened when I tried to do projects with my students last year.

This was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I entered this year with a new attitude. I thought to myself, “I am a good teacher. I know how to plan.  I know how to execute. I know how to make adjustments based on my students’ needs.” From this attitude flowed a multitude of changes. One, I stopped feeling guilty for holding high expectations. Two, my students now have pride in their work. They know it is not an option to say “I can’t” do it. “I can’t” is not allowed in my classroom. I told them to replace this with “Will you help me Miss Hannah?”.

Last year, when I assigned these projects, only about 10/40 students would turn them in (Talk about depressing for a teacher). For a regular homework assignment, I would have 40/40 students turn in their homework. THIS YEAR, I AM GETTING 100% COMPLETION FROM 100% OF STUDENTS FOR PROJECTS. This is a big shift.

This is a project from 5th Grade Unit 2: My Days of the Week. 

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I scaffolded the project throughout the unit. This was something I did not do last year! I would assign the whole project in one class period. This year, I understand that students prefer to do one part at a time. This also gets them in the mindset that they are working towards something greater.

1. First, translate your class schedule.

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2. Next, tell me what classes you have on three different days.

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3. Then, tell me what you do on your weekends. (Watch TV, do homework, do housework, etc).
I don’t have a picture for this one.

4. Finally, present to the class!!!!

This was obviously my students’ favorite part. From day one of the project, they knew they would be presenting their books. This increased investment significantly. What made me prouder than anything though was how proud the students were when their classmates did well. After every team went, everyone in the class cheered.

I just finished my 3rd project, and I feel like both me and my students are getting better and better at completing them. We might just be ready to tackle something bigger for the second half of the semester.

 

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