My Second Year of PBL Comes to a Close

Year two of my adventure in implementing PBL (project-based learning) into a large urban classroom setting came to a close officially yesterday at 11:45am eastern time. My students headed off to their summer, and my colleagues and I began the process of evaluating and reflecting on another year.

It was a good year. It had its share of tribulations, but anything worth doing will have its challenges; I’ve learned great lessons from both the positive and negative moments that arrived throughout the year. The number one positive to come out of year two is that there is officially going to be a year three. We will now have three levels of the Studio: freshmen year, sophomore year, and now junior year! I consider this a great success considering so many new programs in a time of economic turmoil and budget cuts easily crumble and fade quickly. Our numbers are strong for next year and we’ll be introducing a new teacher into the mix, which I am personally elated about. The point is we are expanding, growing, developing, learning, and still adventuring.

We all know that here in U.S. we are playing a testing numbers game, and we are no different in the Studio in the sense that we must answer to the same demands. It has been the hardest concept to win anyone over to believing that PBL is a viable and real way of learning in a classroom when tests so often determine a student’s fate for college and beyond. The good news here is that we continue to have success on high stakes tests and we’ve seen some improvement from last year even. We won’t have results from AP tests until July, but we’re hopeful that those numbers will reflect continued growth. Our EOCT (end of course test) scores showed an increase in ability with the 9th grade group as all but five scored in the EXCEEDS category and the remaining five made no less than an eighty-five percent on the exam.

Numbers on tests don’t tell the whole story though.

We have students who have earned spots for Georgia’s Governor Honors Program, a Georgia Tech summer technology group, the MARC (Model Atlanta Regional Commission) summer institute, as well as internships. (All of ours students are either 9th or 10th graders; most of them can’t even drive yet!) I couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishments and how they are using the skills developed in the classroom to achieve greater aspirations outside of the classroom.

I foolishly posted that my second year has come to a close, but the reality is that I’ll be right back at in another week when many local PBLers will get together for an informal conference for two days. It should be a great time to share and brainstorm for the future. In the meantime, as I reflect on a year just coming to an end, I say bravo to my students, my colleagues, and maybe even a little pat on my own back for another successful year.

Here’s to the future!

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