Thursday, June 19, 2014

Project-Based Learning (PBL)

I came across this short video that introduces what Project-Based Learning encompasses. I will show this to my kiddos at the beginning of the year and together we will explore the subject of experiential learning. I hope to fire up their curiosity about PBL at the beginning of the year.

The Move To PBL

This summer, one of my goals is to complete the transformation of my classroom to a student-driven, project-based learning environment. To that end, I'm immersing myself in PBL resources in the hope of creating something for my classroom that is based on the successes and failures of others who have walked this path before me. I am currently reading Philip Cummings' blog (@Philip_Cummings) which details his PBL process and it has been extremely helpful. I'm also going to look into PBL University (@PBLUniversity) and work through some of the courses on that site in order to better prepare myself for a PBL learning environment. Oh, there is so much to learn.

One of the things that excites me about moving to a PBL environment is the increased student voice. Kiddos will have more of a say in what they learn, how they learn it and how they will demonstrate their learning. One thing I must keep in mind is that kiddos will need an authentic audience so early on, I will have to teach them how to create a Google Site and use it as a portfolio of their learning this year and a showcase for their learning as well. In fact, a Google Site should allow them to have a page for each content area and also a link to their 20% Time Project Blog (Harmonized Learning). Since we have gone paperless on our team (Team Harmony - myself and Melissa Hellwig @melissahellwig4), we have used Google Docs to share, collaborate and turn in assignments. The Google Sites will also allow publication and portfolio creation as well. Indeed, the Google Apps for Education will be integrated more fully this year into our program.

From my reading, I have learned that it is more important to create the learning environment than it is to create the learning outcomes. If I am able to create an environment in which kids feel empowered, know that their natural curiosities will be supported and feel that their creativity will be nurtured, then real, authentic learning will take place.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How Schools Kill Creativity

I just watched Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk called "How Schools Kill Creativity". I could not agree more with his premise - traditional schooling normss out much of our creativity in favor of conformity. Our values as a society are reflected in our public schools and those values seem to be attention to task and conformity.

While attention to task is important, if the task is not worthwhile to the person performing that task, then what good is it? So often, trying to get kids to learn in a traditional setting is like beating our heads against a wall. Those settings do not honor the talents and abilities of the kids. In schools where students' talents and abilities are honored, those same students perform well within their own creativity/talent spectrum.

The traditional school model may show some kids to be a failure at school but those same kids may turn out to be huge successes once they are removed from the school environment. We must do a better job at helping kids discover their talents, nurturing their creativity, and personalizing their learning to develop their strengths. Once schools do these things, our student population will be much more successful.

Here is the TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson