17 April 2015

My First Adventures with PBL (project based learning)

Hallelujah!  State testing is done.  Everyone was a little anxious this year since we were making the transition to the computer-based testing (out with the old standards being assessed and in with the new ones)!

As a way to make our time in the classroom less stressful, I have had students studying caves in a mini project-based learning unit.  Our driving question was: How do caves form?  This was my first go with a PBL unit and having no real formal training in the area, I do find my classroom results match what the research has to say about motivating students and keeping them engaged despite what a highly exhaustive week this was with AzMERIT testing and all.

My 5 for Friday showcases my attempt to transition to a PBL classroom since we're breaking up with the Math and ELA rigid block schedule.  Hooray for freedom and the independence to integrate science and social studies more freely across the curriculum!

1. - PBL (project based learning)

PBL = Project Based Learning.  This is my PBS Focus Wall - sets a purpose for our study!  From the visuals I had seen posted, you need a driving question as well as a Know/Need to Know... chart.  The other thinking maps we used as we took notes and this has helped to scaffold and organize new information into digestible bites for the kiddoz.

2. Student Generated Cave Posters

I loved assigning my ADHD boys the role of "engineer."  I sent my engineers to gather supplies from the "building table" loaded with tubs of PlayDoh, construction paper, cardboard recyclable items, and let their imagination run wild!  The Lava Tube Cave engineer really thought creatively with his use of half of an egg carton to represent the Earth, Play-doh for the lava, and red pipe cleaners to represent the lava tubes that would cool and dry up over time.

3. Cave Day - Draw Like a Caveman (Towel Spread Out on Floor Beneath Desk)
Luckily my local grocery store was completely understanding of my request to have them "donate" paper bags to my classroom for our Cave Day art project.  After testing had wrapped, we celebrated with Cave Day - I had kids bring in old towels, pillows and flashlights.  Kids laid on top of their towels underneath their desks as they created cave art while on their backs.  

4. More Cave Art Fun!  (I had them connect to Rafiki's tree sketch of Simba from The Lion King)
This girl said she wasn't finished but I think the "less is more" really works well on her cave art.  She did an excellent job rubbing the pastels to create a more authentic feel to her artwork.  Pikachu, anyone?

5. Did I graduate with my Masters Degree to turn into a full-time test proctor? {apparently so}
Had to officially log-in and give students an online testing session ID on FIVE different occasions this week.  So long state testing and a week-long of proctoring, I'm ready to get back to teaching!!! Poor, over-tested kids all in the sake of "more accountability."  Who's winning here??  No way did my cell phone go anywhere near the computer lab, talk about an automatic "invalidation!"