This is where the journey begins! The purpose of this learning log is to provide myself with a platform for documentation, reflection, and self-evaluation as I explore through the Master of Educational Technology (MET) program at Boise State University. I am hoping that it also serves as a valuable resource in helping learners reflect on their own personal development. I am ready to step out of my comfort zone and watch the magic happen! Please check back regularly for updates.
We are now nearing the end of this course, and my understanding and knowledge of Project Based Learning have grown exponentially. What I understand best about PBL is that it’s a learning approach, and it allows students to self-explore and investigate real world problems and acquire a deeper knowledge and skills. I also understand the importance of standards and reflection and how it’s necessary for complex learning. What I understand least is how to go about relinquishing control and placing the decisions in the students hands without interfering with their learning process.
In taking this course, I expected to learn how technology supports PBL just as the class name implies, as well as how to create a PBL project. At the end of this course, I learned what I expected to and more. I learned the differences between a traditional classroom and PBL. I also learned the characteristics of PBL, which includes the difference between teacher and facilitator. I learned the importance of collaboration, sustained inquiry, assessment, and reflection. I learned the 21st-century skills that students need and how it will serve them in life.
Now that I’ve learned so much about the essentials of PBL I will use it to challenge and inspire learners. I will encourage them to think creatively and become better problem-solvers. I will try to focus on developing students communications skills and help them acquire analytical thinking skills and accountability for their actions and work. This course has taught me so much in such a short period, and I hope to use all that I’ve learned to integrate it into professional development training for teachers. I also plan to use 21st-century skills to prepare students in my middle school broadcasting club for the real world.
This PBL project started with a driving question and required a lot of preparation and planning. This week we were tasked with a peer review. We were given a project design rubric to use as a guide to help us provide constructive criticism to one of our classmates projects. I felt that the peer review provided useful feedback and helped improve my own assessment.
When I look at this overall evaluation I would involve teachers in the review process. I would have them review the project and get their feedback and expertise on the strengths and weaknesses of the project from a teacher’s perspective. I would provide them with a questionnaire and focus questions on whether or not they felt the project would be an effective way to increase engagement for parents in the classroom.
I would also include parents in the process and send them a survey to find out how efficient they feel the classroom websites are. I would ask questions to get insight on their user experience, access to the site, and whether the resources on the site support their children’s learning. This would more likely be an annual evaluation to make sure that the classroom sites remain relevant to them. I feel that this review process is a reiterative one and it will need constant revisions to perfect it.
This week we were tasked with reflecting on the challenges of teachers and instructors adapting to a new role of facilitator. When the instructor role changes to a facilitator in PBL, there are differences in this new role. A facilitator doesn’t lecture or provide information to a learner; it is up to the learner to self-direct. The facilitator helps the learners understand the objectives and learning outcomes and assist them to plan how to achieve the goals.
Instructors have to change their mindset and understand that it’s about leading learners to a new understanding. Facilitators must stimulate thinking, encourage exploration, and help learners make a connection to bring everything together.
Learners will develop competencies and skills to be successful, such as a deeper understanding of that they’re learning and longer retention of content. They will also demonstrate better problem-solving and critical thinking skills. For me to become a better facilitator, I will need to ask questions repeatedly to encourage participation and create a connection with the learners. I will also need to introduce information slowly and make the content applicable to the real world. I can accomplish this by asking learners for ways in which they can apply the content their exploring to their lives.
From Teacher to Facilitator by Michael Sunnarborg : Learning Solutions Magazine. (n.d.). Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/74/from-teacher-to-facilitator
Scaffolding in PBL
According to The Glossary of Education Reform, scaffolding refers to a variety of instructional techniques used to move students progressively toward stronger understanding and, ultimately, greater independence in the learning process. Scaffolding in PBL is important because it meets the needs of students learning so that they can be successful. In PBL scaffolding is a form of learning support. It’s planned for the entire project in advance, and this makes sure that your project is aligned from beginning to end. When scaffolding it’s important to make sure that your students are clear on what the learning outcomes and targets are. It is also important to connect scaffolding to a learner’s background knowledge and look at their prerequisites skills that they will need.
In creating this project, we’ve had to develop a student learning guide. This guide is a great tool to plan to scaffold. It’s mostly backward planning. You start off with the learning outcomes and what you want learners to achieve and begin the process of creating the actual project using these outcomes as a guide, this includes the products and the knowledge and skills the students will need to create them, checkpoints and formative assessment and instructional strategies and resources. This will give learners the knowledge they need to be successful.
Scaffolding is important because it meets students where they are and supports their learning. It’s designed to get students to the next level of their learning and get students to become independent learners and problem solvers. The way I will be addressing this in my project is by providing clear direction and anticipating problems that the student may encounter and let them know what they must do to overcome it. I’ll clearly state the purpose of the project and help students understand why a website for the classroom is an important tool for communication. I will make sure that learners stay on task by constantly checking in on them and allow them to make their decisions about which avenues they take to explore. I will also incorporate an assessment plan that includes both summative and formative assessments like a rubric and checklist.
Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved June 04, 2016, from http://bie.org/blog/gold_standard_pbl_scaffold_student_learning
Scaffolding Definition. (2013). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://edglossary.org/scaffolding/
This week in class we explored the development of targeted assessments in a Project Based environment. I have to admit that the development process for my assessment plan took some time to complete. I use to think assessment was used to evaluate work at the end of instruction, but what I found out was that it’s not only utilized at the end, but it’s necessary at the start.
My planned assessment for my project includes product development, rubric, checklist, and a graphic organizer. Let me explain the different ways these tools meet essential requirements for effective assessment.
Product Development and Rubric
The product is a classroom website, and one of the learning outcomes is an ISTE Standard, and it states that students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations. The product is a summative assessment that will provide students with a culminating evaluation of their performance through creating a website. Students will meet the learning outcome, and it will also help the teacher assess how well the students know the content, their skill level, and how well they applied their knowledge and skill to design the website.
Checklist and graphic organizer
These assessment tools fall under the category of formative assessment. The checklist I created is a form of self-evaluation and research has shown it to be a powerful tool in improving student outcomes. It clearly defines the criteria and the process of evaluation. The checklist I created for this assessment plan is very clear on the expectations for the overall organization, design, and content material. The graphic organizer helps the students visually brainstorm new ideas and there understanding of the concepts. This is an excellent way to monitor the students learning and to provide any necessary feedback that may improve the students learning.
This week in class we focused on writing a driving question. A driving question is a way to focus a student’s work as well as a teacher’s. It helps communicate the purpose of a project in a clearly expressed question. There are certain criteria for a driving question. A quality driving question should:
- Engage learners/students. It should be a question that they can understand and that’s relevant to them in their lives.
- Be open-ended and should allow for more than one right answer.
- Align with learning goals, such as standards, skills, and objectives that you want students to learn.
- Present a challenge.
There are more elements to a quality driving question, but I just noted a few. I was able to create a driving question for my project that included some of these key elements and I used Driving Question Tubric 2.0 to help me. Driving Question Tubric 2.0 is a tool that was very helpful in helping me practice writing driving questions. It help you frame initial words, person, or entity, action or challenge, and audience/purpose.
This week I also used Pinterest for organizing and brainstorming my ideas and resources for my project. Pinterest is basically a social networking tool that allow you to visually share and bookmark interest, creative ideas, and images. I found it to be easy to use as well as the perfect tool to bookmark and organize resources for my project.
Effectiveness of Project-Based Learning
This week (2) in Edtech 542 we continued to familiarize ourselves with Project-Based Learning (PBL) by reading up on several resources and examples of PBL integrated into different subjects and content areas. We had to identify common features in the various projects and share one that we liked. We also were tasked with finding an article on the effectiveness of PBL in diverse classrooms and reflecting on it.
I had a chance to read a couple of items, and I will touch on the efficiency that PBL has in diverse classrooms, but first let me explain how I was interested to find out that diversity in the classroom is exhibited in many different ways. One article I read from Global Education Conference was titled “Diversity, Learning Styles and Project Based Learning- Upgrading Classroom Methods for a Global Personal Learning Framework”. This article described how teachers are faced with teaching highly diverse classrooms filled with students that have emotional issues that impact their ability to learn as well as the teacher’s ability to teach. I found out that teachers are dealing with various learning styles, multiple unique ED issues, and at-risk students, which is a very broad area. This article revealed a few things, and I now see classroom diversity from a different perspective. I think that in a way all classes are diverse in some sense and race isn’t the only thing that defines diversity.
After reading different articles online I feel that diverse learners make up diverse classrooms and according to an article on Edutopia “Teachers who use PBL and who also have taken part in extended professional development report more teaching and assessment of 21st-century skills, compared with a closely matched comparison group.” This statement means that students in PBL classrooms spend more time learning relevant content through their personal experiences. This, therefore, fosters the development of critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills. PBL serves diverse learners by engaging and motivating them, and studies show that students demonstrate improved attitudes towards learning and have better attendance than in more traditional environments.
“Diversity, Learning Styles and Project Based Learning” Upgrading Classroom Methods for a Global Personal Learning Framework.” Web. 19 May 2016.
How Project-Based Learning Builds 21st-Century Skills. (2012). Retrieved May 19, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/21st-century-skills-pbl-suzie-boss