Each year I like to set myself targets to develop my practice, often with a less is more approach so normally two or three ideas or areas maximum. This year I hope is going to be dominated by Project Based Learning.
My priority must be creating more authentic projects in my subject area, Science. I think the easiest way to do this is firstly to involve parents more as an audience, not only for their child but as a member of the local community. This I hope wil not just be for the big projects we undertake but very much part of the journey. I am already planning a parents session on using www.electrocity.co.nz as bit of research/ homelearning . Through this I am hoping to find some useful contacts for expert collaborators, obviously this will not be the only avenue I hope to develop, but could be the most important one, as this more present more motivated participants who have a vested interest.
A large part of authenticity be having genuine outcomes, working with experts in the field we are studying and/ or projects that have a real impact beyond our classroom. These real world connections I hope will help provide the motivation to produce quality.
I am expecting this to put quite a bit of pressure on myself, my co-teachers and our students, but, this will be welcome if the quality of the student work and the pride of achievement are high!
So measures that will be reinforced this year to help ensure this desired quality are.
1. Project Tuning- which will also have the benefit of sharing good practice too both within school and beyond. I'm hoping that some of the collaborators can have an input at the early stage.
2. Continued development of a "drafting" culture through critique.
3. Establish a work book and portfolio book for "best drafts", so students can readily identify their best work. I hope this will add importance to all work beyond the "big" projects. I have already identified this work in my first module and will share this with my students.
4. More regular exhibition of student work. My thinking here is that twice a year could be feasible to host an open evening to display, share and explain student work. Importantly these need to be established early in the year so that deadlines are well known and respected.
5. Do the project first has become a bit of a mantra for me, so I will endeavour to do this for each project this year. My experience in doing this has told me it works, helping me judge value, feasibility and work out differentiation.
6. Finally, I will archive high quality student work to use as exemplars. I have some from last year, and although the projects will evolve, may set a standard for others to emulate.
So that's it in a nutshell, i know there will be more like SOLO taxonomy (and the destruction of Blooms :-)), evidence based strategies, whole school project weeks and much more besides.
I have just read through a very useful (draft) guide to Project Based Learning from Learning Futures , so if you are interested in developing PBL too, keep an eye on this site for its release. Highly recommended.
My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.