Saturday, September 7, 2013

Project Based Learning

PBL: Managing the mushy middle

Posted on by  on Inquire Within
Everyone pretty much agrees that the most troubling and challenging aspect of PBL is the actual process of running a project. At our recent Project Learning Swap Meet in Sydney, Mike Wheadon made the insightful point that many teachers know what happens at the beginning (the project launch and the DQ) and the end (the celebration of learning) but many are still fuzzy about what happens in the middle. I nicknamed this the ‘mushy middle’ and it became a repeated metaphor that we returned to throughout the day. Before the Swap Meet, I put together a small booklet of my ‘go to’ resources for managing the mushy middle of project-learning. Even though these are resources that I have created and/or used for many projects, different resources work better with different students. Remember that it’s always about context – just try something with your students and if it doesn’t work, evaluate why and then try again or try something different. I wanted to share those resources with those of you who might similarly be struggling with the question, ‘How does PBL work day-to-day in the classroom?’. I sense that this concern is mostly to do with managing team-work (which is really bloody hard and I certainly don’t have the answer … just ask my students!) and the nature of assessment. There really isn’t one way to approach either of these issues – as I said above, it’s very much about trial and error, taking risks and being confident to discuss the problems with your students. I know this is very hard to do, but it is necessary to embrace the fact that PBL is essentially a messy process where the best thing a teacher can do is step out of the way and let kids work things out for themselves. Letting go can be very stressful for teachers, but nothing can replace the sense of liberation you will experience once you do, I promise.

NOTE: These resources are not in any particular order … just in case you read into how I upload them, lol.

Click here to see the resources!

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