The Buck Institute for Education commissioned the cutting-edge advertising agency, Common Craft, to create a short animated video that explains in clear lang...
Dana Tarnopal's insight:
This video presented by the Buck Institute for Education was an illustrated video on what exactly project based learning is. It shows a very strong contrast between classroom that use lectures and examinations to educate students and project based learning. Within this video,the illustrated Mr. Simmons used the fact that many of his students were sick as a prompt for a class project. He split the class in groups and allows them to discover how to stop the sickness from spreading in the class and to present their findings to their peers. The video showed that each group went in different directions, finding different information and presenting in different ways. In the end, the students remembered the information they were taught in class rather than forgetting the information they studied for their tests. I thought this was an extremely well thought out video that clearly explains what project based learning is. I think it addresses a big problem that the education system focuses today. Teachers rely to heavily on examinations for assessments. Students learn the material that is covered on the exam simply to do well on the test rather than to learn the information in general. Meaning that most students forget the information they studied after they have handed in their exam. This is obviously not ideal as educators should want their students to remember the curriculum and use it in their everyday lives. Through the project Mr. Simmons did students would be more likely to remember the information they gathered during class. He was able to relate the assignment to the situation occurring in class making the project more relatable for the students encouraging them to work hard and have fun. Because their projects were more guided by themselves and their peers rather than Mr. Simmons they were able to research what interested them. As the students were able to study what attracted them they were more likely to remember the information presented during their project.
There's a big difference between using projects in the classroom versus project-based learning in the classroom. What are those differences, you ask?
Dana Tarnopal's insight:
After learning about Project Based Learning in EDCI397, I struggled to understand what the difference was between a project assessment and project based learning. Through this chart I was able to grasp the difference between the two. Many of the items that stuck out to me I intend to incorporate them into the projects I assign in my classroom to ensure that it is not just an assessment but is used to encourage learning. For example, one that really stuck out to me is that for project based learning it needs to be applicable to the real world. Thinking back to the projects I was assigned in elementary school, many of them focused on the curriculum and material that had been presented to me in class. It never involved real life skills I would use later in life. In my classroom, I hope to use the projects to further enhance my students understanding of the material and curriculum but also to teach my students about real world skills. Another item that really stuck out to me was that project based learning allows students to make their own decisions. The projects are considered to be "open" and allow the students to determine the outcome of the research. I think this is a really important quality because it allows the students to research and investigate what interests them and what they are curious about learning. It allows the students and the teacher to go beyond standardized testing and common core and encourages creativity and self-learning. Finally, according to the chart, project based learning needs to be "relevant to the students' lives." In my opinion, this is the most important quality of the projects. Projects should be intensive and time consuming so it would unproductive if the project did not present skills and information that the students can apply to their lives and future. I think all projects and other assessments need to have some aspect of relevancy to the students lives. I know I will work hard to ensure that my students are continuously given assignments that encourage them to expand their knowledge on things that are relevant to their daily or future lives.
Students Carve Cultural Connections -- and a Canoe
Dana Tarnopal's insight:
This video shows a 7th grade classroom learning about an Alaskan tribe. Rather than being lectured, the students collectively made a boat used by this group of people and then had the opportunity to travel to Alaska. Through this project the students were able to gain confidence when learning about the culture of this tribe. I thought this was one of the coolest lesson plans I have been in exposed to. It was great to see how the teacher did not rely on textbooks or lectures to educate her students on this group of people. The project was interactive and encouraged the students to work as a team. I really appreciated that this project not only focused on the Alaskan tribe and its culture but also on teamwork and dedication. Unfortunately, I do not know if this project is something I can realistically bring to my classroom. Collecting the means to purchase the wood to build a boat and travel to Alaska would be extremely difficult. However, I can decorate my classroom with different fabrics, woods, pictures and musical instruments and play music to bring the Alaskan tribe to my student. I really like the idea of building something with my students as a team that required much hard work and stamina. This video relates to what was recently discussed in EDCI397 because it teaches about culture but goes beyond what type of food they eat. This lesson taught the students about the importance of the canoe, the music and the tribal land. Overall, this was an excellent project that I hope I can modify to bring to my classroom.
This video portrays a teacher, Megan Pacheco at Napa New Tech High School on how she incorporates project based learning in her mathematics classroom. The majority of the projects that were discussed in the video are not projects that I can bring into my classroom because they are too complex for the students I intend to teach. However, the ideas and concepts she talks about within the video really helped me further my understanding of what Project Based Learning is. Pacheco makes a very interesting point about her teaching style. She says that as a teacher she always wants to help her students but has to restrain herself to help them learn it on their own. I thought this was important because it shows how much she relies on the independence of her students to learn and understand the material. I also think this is something I will struggle with as a teacher because I love to help others. It is definitely something I intend to work on. The project portrayed in the video was to create the most space effective box for mini Oreos. What really stood out to me was how engaged all the students were throughout the video. It was evident that they all wanted to learn and have a successful product at the end of the day. During the debrief Pacheco was able to discuss with her students what they experienced during the day and how it helped them further their understanding. I was pleasantly surprised with how willing the students were to share their stories from the day and how interactive they were in the discussion. Pacheco also mentioned that she got most of her ideas from textbooks. I thought this was fascinating because I would never associate project based learning with a textbook. However, she claimed that using the applications taught in textbooks as inspiration are helpful in creating Project Based Learning lesson plans. I thought that was an excellent idea that I hope to use in my future classroom. Through this video, Mehan Pacheco reminded me how math can be fun and exciting and I hope to create the environment that she did in her classroom in my own. As Pacheco said in the video "math doesn't have to be dry and boring, there are applications for math, thats why math exists." As teachers we need to show our students these applications to get them engaged and excited about math!
Editor's Note: Andrew Miller is a consultant for the Buck Institute for Education, an organization that specializes in project-based curriculum. He also creates curriculum and instruction at Giant Cam
Dana Tarnopal's insight:
Math has always been my favorite subject and is definitely the subject I most excited to teach as an elementary school teacher. It is my emphasis as an elementary education major. This semester is my first in college that I am not taking a math course and I wish I had the ability to take on as an elective. However even with this excitement for math, when discussing project based learning in EDCI397, I realized I never associated this practice with my favorite subject. I was able to imagine the use of project based learning in my classroom with english, social studies and science but for math it seemed more difficult. This article helped me realize the immense amount of opportunities I have to use project based learning in mathematics. What I found most interesting was how the author redefined the "math problem." Instead of a math problem either being an equation or word problem, Miller thought of numerous questions that incorporated real world situations that could be used for project based learning in a classroom. The idea he proposed that I would definitely love to use in my classroom is "what is the most cost effective design of our classroom?" I really enjoyed this particular question because my class will be in a classroom the question is more tangible. Additionally, it teaches the students not only about money but also about how to be cost efficient and the importance of money in everyday life. As Miller claims in his article "the old definition of word 'problem' is not rigorous." Miller shows that through project based learning, teachers can make mathematics more than just about the numbers.
Teacher John Bosselman explains how he devised a cross-curricular challenge – spanning citizenship, literature and art – to help students engage with complex social issues
Dana Tarnopal's insight:
This article is a great introduction on how to bring politics into classrooms through project based learning. The first part of the project was to allow the student to determine their own topic. The author stressed this crucial step because the students need to be engaged in the topic of their project. I really agree with the author, John Bosselman, because the more engaged the student is with the project the more the student will enjoy researching the topic. As students continue to research they continue to learn more information making the project more worthwhile. The topics that the students focused on included different social issues such as the death penalty and human sex trafficking. The students had to "manage a campaign" by interviewing a multitude of people on their opinions teaching them communication and interviewing skills. The article states that by the end of the project they were more informed on many issues than the general public. I loved this project and think it is definitely something I can bring to my classroom. The project went further than just politics but taught the students important communication skills that will be required throughout their lives. While I intend to teach younger students and may have to modify the topics discussed in the projects I hope to use a similar method in my future classroom. I also really appreciated that it introduced the students to different issues that surround our country so I would ensure that while the issues may be less intense than the death penalty they will still include debates that continue throughout society such as education policy like "No Child Left Behind".
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