In a nut shell it is as follows: Those in the skills camp believe that it is much more worthwhile to focus on the teaching of transferable skills; the ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesise being the holy grail.
I think about the moment we finished our second mural and my students were so excited they started spontaneously cheering or the moment students asked thoughtful questions to our guests during the immigration documentary or the way students continued to surprise me with their blogging projects year after year or the creativity in their STEM-related engineering projects.
But for all the highlights, there are also a string of failures. I tried something and it failed. As an eighth grade self-contained teacher, I wanted to prove that our math block could be fully project-based.
|Musings from an English teacher working in an inner city academy.||Being able to debate and argue a point is a skill that is valuable in many aspects of life.|
I challenged students to find real examples of linear equations and interview experts who used this skill in their daily life. To make matters worse, students struggled to determine linear functions while looking at a graph or to solve a linear equation using an algorithm.
At first, I blamed my students. I viewed their disengagement as laziness rather than confusion. However, after four days of a failing project, I realized it was a design problem.
In my drive for authenticity, I had created pseudo-context. In my rejection of cookie cutter learning, I had turned the PBL process into something cookie cutter.
At that point, we regrouped and focused on a problem-based approach with more scaffolding and some time for guided practice.
How to Align Standards to Projects People often debate about whether we should be process-driven or product-driven in project-based learning. We can be learning-driven. At times, this looks very product-focused. Ask a student in the midst of a NaNoWriMo project where they create a novel in a month and they are focusing on that end result of a finished novel.
True, the process is important but they might just deviate from it a bit. By contrast, a student in a design thinking project might begin with empathy toward a group and only later, after working through the process, hit a place of ideation and prototyping.
But regardless, you as a teacher, will be focused on what they are learning through this journey. PBL is not a license to ditch the standards or take a break from real learning.
As educators, we need to make sure our projects lead students to a place where they can master the standards. But how do we actually accomplish this? How do you do PBL when you have a ton of standards to teach?
The key is to tap into content-neutral standards. For example, in our Geek Out Blogs, my middle school students had to make sure that their blogs included persuasive and explanatory texts. Here are the two main standards we used. Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence CCSS.
Students also engaged in research: Conduct short research projects to answer a question including a self-generated questiondrawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. They moved through the entire writing process: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards above. With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards up to and including grade 8 here. They also published their work to the world, both in writing shorter and longer posts: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
Write routinely over extended time frames time for research, reflection, and revision and shorter time frames a single sitting or a day or two for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
This project included nearly every single Common Core Writing Standard in the first few weeks of school. Notice, also, how none of those standards mention specific topics.
As long as they were practicing discreet skills in reading and writing, they could choose their own topics. This was an interest-driven approach to PBL. Our Tiny House Projects, by contrast, required students to master specific conceptual standards with the freedom to use multiple modalities.
We combined volume, surface area, and proportional reasoning with standards around budgeting and finance.Students need a broad knowledge base, which they won’t receive if teachers focus too much on skill-related instruction or “learning how to learn.” Cross-disciplinary skills are extremely difficult to assess reliably and consistently.
Of course one doesn’t need to speak French to debate, but thinking through every perspective and every fact is the key. If you have already thought through the the argument and counter arguments to your position, you will be prepared to respond fully and effectively.
Discussion and debate have their place—but to bring out leadership and new ideas, consider practicing the art of dialogue.
In a single one-hour time span on a typical school day, five leaders at one middle school used communication to build connections and achieve results: What communication.
People often debate about whether we should be process-driven or product-driven in project-based learning. But I think there’s a third option. We can be learning-driven.
May 17, · 5. Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process 7. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts 8.
Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes. Life Skills: Thinking and Reasoning 1. Understands and applies the basic principles of presenting an argument 2. (one full debate) takes about an hour. A judge picks a winner in each debate based on which side does the better job of upholding their position.
This is a skill that debate best teaches and high-level business people and professionals possess. debate.. Learning Classic Debate.