While some teachers may wonder about the merits of PBL, I’m sold. My high school students have learned much more in an inquiry classroom than others did when we had a traditional one. PBL allows them to have a say in what they learn and how they present their knowledge. Every semester I’m impressed by the hard work and energy my students pour into their projects. Here’s the story of our biology projects this year.
This exciting and demanding opportunity for my students to serve as ejournalists at Canada’s National Rural Congress is the “exam” I’ve been preparing them for. I think this is the future of education: authentic tasks; embedded, mobile, BYOD technology. What students can memorize and spew back on a Biology or English final has no ability to tell me how they will perform in a high pressure situation like this. But I think they’re up for the task.
I recently blogged about the importance of cultivating a culture where our students are expected to fail sometimes — it’s part of taking risks. We need to do this as teachers too. The first step, of course, is to create a culture of trust and support among teachers, and that’s hard in the midst of high-stakes testing and the publishing of teacher and school rankings. The only way this will happen is if we’re honest.
I’ll go first.
Teachers who are interested in shifting their classrooms often don’t know where to start. It can be overwhelming, frightening, and even discouraging, especially when no one else around you seems to think the system is broken. The question I’ve been asked often throughout the past year is “Where should a teacher begin?” I’ve reflected on this a fair amount, and I think small strategic steps are the key.
One of the most important things we can do is teach our students how to use social media wisely, and how social media can be used for social good. In grade 11 English this semester, we’ve chosen to create a social media campaign to raise awareness around modern slavery. It’s not enough for my students to learn about slavery, they need to do something with it, specifically “real world” projects that matter.