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