I woke up this morning realizing that I haven’t posted on my blog in two weeks! My apologies for anyone who actually enjoys reading this thing for such a delay. With the beginning of school, it has been a whirlwind of activity.
Since starting my project-based learning (PBL) adventure a year ago, I would like to think that I’ve learned a good deal from my mistakes, missed marks, and misunderstandings. This year the adventure had the potential to get very rocky as we expanded our PBL classrooms to two different grade levels. While considering this, I devised a plan on how to juggle so many projects from so many different students at the same time. You see last year we would hold an exposition-style presentation for the community at large at the end of each semester. These expos were a way of rewarding the students’ hard work and to validate it as well. They were both successful for first year attempts, so my thought for this year’s first round of projects with our tenth grade group was to present the projects ‘in the round’ exposition-style while my colleague and I used a specific rubric to grade each project during the exposition. This really saved us! Our ninth grade group is still so green to how the class works so we knew we couldn’t do this with them, but our veterans really stepped up and handled the new style of presentation in class very well.
In order for our summer reading to really matter to our students, we require our first full project to focus on the readings, their connections, and their value to them as students. We allowed students to work in pairs for this first project, which really worked well considering we have almost exactly sixty students in this class. We presented the projects in two days. Half the class presented one day and the other half on the second day. While one half presented the other half rotated through each station, taking notes, and rating their peers performance. It was noisy and beautiful at the same time. It honestly went almost better than expected. We had a mixed reaction as to how much the students liked it, but from a teacher’s perspective it was a great way to see each student in action, see understanding, and evaluate quickly.
We’ll be going back to more classic presentations in our next round, but this made for a much more manageable and smooth transition into my second year of a PBL classroom.