Design Teaching

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 23 2011

I’ve Implemented My First Project Based Learning Experience! “Warning! Warning! A Science Safety Project”

It’s incredibly exciting. I’ve spent a good number of hours planning a simple, four day unit on Safety in fifth grade science in which students work in teams to present skits that show scientists how to be safe and how NOT to be safe. Each team has a budget that they need to follow, a certain scenario they are addressing, and deliverables that are due on Friday.

However, while well-planned, I’ve certainly learned a lot about implementation. First, the positives.
✚ I added some pizzaz, including a voiceover of the entry document (a letter from the CEO of OPC Labs), which helped the students get invested.
✚ I had the students in the second class start generating Knows and Need-to-Knows which we’ll return to tomorrow.

Now the Deltas.
Δ Plan more time for fifth graders to learn how to grapple with PBL packets! I gave the packet to my fifth graders as homework to read, but underestimated how overwhelmed they’d feel looking at nine pages worth of information, especially since my fifth graders have NEVER seen a syllabus, never really worked with rubrics, and never worked so independently in teams before. In the future, I’ll either have a ton of time in class for them to read and ask questions. Or, I’ll present just the Entry Document first and then introduce the other pieces (like rubrics and checklists), only when necessary.
Δ Spell check.

I’ll blog later this week about my entire planning and implementation process, because there’s a lot of thinking that goes into planning and implementing a PBL and because I know I’m going to make a lot of mistakes, so I hope that you find my reflection process helpful as you also think about planning PBLs.

I also promise to record my students’ presentations and upload them on YouTube. I think they’ll be pretty great. (=

Warning! Warning! Safety Project Packet: Click here for full document, look below for preview.
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Originally posted on Science Never Sucks, a Blog:

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