The two sessions I was able to attend were one PBL, Technology and Assessment and on the use of Social Media with Students.
First observation - there was a very different, but equally passionate tenor to both groups.
PBL, Tech & Assessment
Some questions that arose in our PBL group that I'd love to get wider responses to include:
- What strategies are being used successfully to integrate PBL with Advanced Placement classes?
- What strategies do you use to help parents and the school community (including other teachers) to understand that, even though they/we have been successful in a sit-and-get structure of school, that's not good enough and we must do more and better now? (With an underlying understanding that PBL is one strategy to achieve this.)
Some tips and suggestions that I thought were particularly helpful included one high school English teacher who expressed that he began to integrate PBL into his class mid-year, and as such, he found that there were three things that worked for him:
- Start small
- Look for a small win first
- Look for and celebrate achievement in a big way from that small win
These three steps can then be built upon. Basically, scaffold the boots off it (my words, not his).
Also, Problem-Based Learning is embedded within Project-Based Learning.
Don't get bogged down in the terminology - if students are doing a kick-@ss job of 6 out of the 8 steps of Project-Based Learning, celebrate it! And then improve.
Social Media with Students
- Social media essentially teaches global empathy - if you can do that in a way other than using social media, more power to ya!
- We need to empathize with teachers who are reticent to use social media with students and not ostracize nor shame them - that runs counter-intuitive to the whole point of building connections via social media. Don't be a hypocrite.
- There are different legal ramifications and ears on the parts of teachers and technical staff, and it is imperative that we have cross-departmental/branch teams to help everyone get to a common understanding and feel as though they have a voice.
After all, learning is social, and if we're making choices in isolation, we're not really learning anything at all, are we?
* When referring to Project-Based Learning, I'm referring to Buck Institute of Education's PBL Model - the bible of PBL, so to speak.