Monday, February 24, 2014

Project Based Learning PBL

Yesterday I attended #edcampsv ( at Palo Alto High School. There was an incredible energy in the library the moment I walked in.  Participants were anxious to get to their discussion sessions and with lots of interesting options I decided to attend the PBL discussion in room 204.  I'd guess there were about 20 people or so in the room to start.  I decided to attend this session because I've tried PBL like projects in my classroom in the past and have been astounded by the increased student engagement over traditional lesson delivery.  As much as I would have liked to have had the whole day follow a more PBL like format, it didn't seem possible with such a huge emphasis on test prep and improved test scores mainly due to NCLB.  Specific curriculum was required to be taught and presented with the supporting materials that accompanied it.  Even though there is still debate over how effectively the new common core standards can be implemented it seems like a PBL structure would naturally support standards emphasizing cultivating 21st century learners.  All of the teachers in the room who use PBL were passionate about the process and those who spoke eluded to the notion that there are some challenges to facilitating a PBL classroom, but the effort involved is worth the outcomes.  One of the main pluses I heard repeated many times was the lack of discipline problems in the classroom.  When students are engaged in an inquiry process that they have a voice in designing they are motivated to collaborate and work with a team to experience and celebrate success.  Two other ideals key to effective PBL implementation mentioned were reflection (often via blog) and motivation.  The book Drive by Daniel Pink was mentioned a few times and I ordered a copy  It was awesome to spend a Saturday with teachers passionate about improving teaching and learning practices.  I'm looking forward to attending another event soon and I'm inspired to apply some of the ideas I heard to my teaching day.

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