Saturday, April 11, 2015

Worksheets Don't Build Dendrites {Chapter 12}

Sarah from First Grader...at Last! is hosting the link up for Chapter 12, which was about Project-Based and Problem-Based Instruction.

"When students interact with other students in a group while solving problems, both cognitive (basic) and metacognitive (higher-order) thinking skills are stimulated." (Posamentier & Jaye, 2006)

I love project-based learning!  It engages kiddos and can really make them think.

One of the suggestions given in the book was to have students construct their own math problems and have other students solve them.  We have done this many times throughout the year, especially with story problems.  My kiddos love challenging each other and seeing their friends solve their problems.

Over the past 3 years, I have really embraced project-based.  Our reading curriculum ends at the end of April, but we go to school through the end of May.  I devote this entire month to different projects.  This year I'm hoping to let students choose their topic that they want to learn more about then teach the rest of the class.   Each year, we have done a habitats project.  Our kiddos graduate the last week of school, so this has been a great way to allow parents to see their projects.  You can read more about these project by following these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Giving to OthersWhat's on the Menu, Community.



Beyond all the great skills students learn while engaged in project-based instruction, I love to hear their share their learning with others.  With my habitat projects mentioned above, students created "science boards" with information about their habitats.  We invited other classes to come on a gallery walk the day before graduation.  As students from other classes visited their projects, my students answered questions and shared their learning.  When projects are displayed in the hallway, we leave a little "guestbook" for our visitors (usually other staff members) to leave us little notes about our projects.  My kiddos get so excited when we have a new message in the guestbook!
Sharing their projects with others.
In our district, we have an "Aviator Profile".  These are 6 skills we want all students to have before they graduate: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creative innovators, caring citizens and .  At first, it seemed like just one more thing to think about when planning.  I knew that my kiddos would not use it or understand it unless they took ownership of it.  I put them into small groups, and each group illustrated and described their characteristic.  These hang around the poster with all the characteristics listed.  My kiddos are able to tell you which of the characteristics they worked on during a particular project.

Generally, my PBL has covered language arts and science/social studies standards.  Math is another great place to use PBL, so that is my goal: to incorporate more projects into math.  Have you used PBL in your classroom?  How has it worked for you?

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