Tony Atkins went to the PBL World conference in Napa this summer and shared his learning on the ESMS PD blog, so we wanted to share his learning here to! Click here to view the original post.
PBL World: In Search of Voice, Choice & Authenticity
Last month, I was part of a group that got an opportunity to travel to Napa, California and take part in the PBL World conference. PBL stands for Project Based Learning and is a complete transformation of how we teach in the classroom. The major portion of my time in the conference was taking part in the PBL 101 course. The purpose of the course is to introduce a teacher to the PBL process as well as guide the teacher through the process of designing a PBL unit.
One of the major takeaways from the course i got was the essential elements that must be present in order to create a strong PBL unit. Two of those elements that stood out to me were student voice and choice as well as authenticity.
Student voice and choice is essential because it is imperative that the students have a say in how they go about completing the project. They should take ownership of their learning to make it truly meaningful.
Authenticity is essential because without it, the product the students create becomes meaningless which makes the learning easily forgotten. What does it mean to be authentic? It means making the task relevant to the students world in which they live in. The most authentic project I saw there was the Bronx Green Machine developed by Stephen Ritz. It was a project that started because Ritz taught in the poorest congressional district in the U.S. It was also the largest food desert as well. If you happen to get a chance to watch any video about his work you should because it is an amazing transformation. Granted, authenticity doesn't have to be that extreme, but it should be relevant to the student.
At the end of my time there, I developed that plan for a unit that I plan on implementing during the fall semester. More importantly, I came back with tools that I can share with my colleagues so that we all can make the transition to a PBL school. Many of those tools include awesome methods for teaching students how to give good feedback. I am ready to transition y classroom to a PBL system. I feel that we will be able to reach many more students with this style of teaching and I am excited to share it with everybody.
Post by | Tony Atkins - Middle School Science Teacher
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