3 Tips for PBL First-Timers

This school year, I’ve implemented a project-based learning curriculum.  As with trying anything for the first time, the students and I have been learning from our mistakes, but I can say without a doubt that it is worth trying out.  Students have been engaged and I’ve seen a marked increase in the quality of work I’m getting.  Here are some tips I have if anyone wants to try it out.  To help contextualize these tips, I’m using a project we did this year during the first marking period, the MyPhilly Project (scroll down to check it out). Continue reading

Activity Idea: Build-a-Bookmark

Re-reading books I was assigned when I was in high school, I’m often surprised how much more I like them on the second read. Part of the reason for this, I think, is that when a book is assigned by a teacher, the student loses some ownership of his reading. Reading workshop (which I’m a huge believer in) helps to alleviate this issue by giving students choices in what they read. While this student choice has definitely had a positive effect on student ownership, I’m always looking for ways to make independent reading feel more like a hobby and less like school work.  A customized bookmark allows students to share whatever interests or messages they wish, and I think could have a particularly positive impact on reluctant readers who don’t feel connected to reading in general. Continue reading

PBL Basics #1: Challenging Problems & Questions

114017bNote: This series of posts is inspired by Larmer, Mergendoller, and Boss’s (2015) recently released book, Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning.  It is a great book for anyone looking to get into or learn more about project/inquiry based learning.  These posts are just a small sample of the pedagogical tools you will find inside.  A full review will be up after this four-part series is complete. Continue reading

What Bloom Would Say About My Curriculum

Now that the school year is coming to a close, I’m starting to reflect on the year as a whole, what I will keep the same and what I’ll change.  This year was a big step forward for me in terms of curriculum development.  I created a standards-based curriculum in which I analyzed the learning anchors and devised units that would allow students to learn them one or two at a time.  As I look back on how the curriculum played out this school year, I find myself asking the question, “What would Bloom say about my curriculum?” (“What Would Bloom Do?” bracelets patent-pending.) Continue reading

Memorization in Moderation

In grad school, we focused a lot of attention on what Paulo Friere – one of the all-stars of educational philosophy – calls the “banking model” of education and, specifically, how to avoid treating students like “empty vessels” within which we as teachers simply disperse knowledge.  With this mindset, I entered my first year of teaching, opposed to memorization, believing it would dehumanize my students and turn them into robots, albeit, robots with extensive vocabularies. Continue reading

An In-Depth Look at the Year Outline

Year Outline

A couple weeks ago, I explained how I came to use the English Anchors as the “backbone” of my curriculum planning.  In this follow up post, I’m going to dig into the details of this outline and explain why and how I mapped it out as I did.  It isn’t totally finished, but it’s bound to change anyway over the course of the school year.  Even though I think it’s important to map out a curriculum, it has to be viewed as a living document. Continue reading