Saturday, September 30, 2017

My First Attempt At Project-Based Learning

I have been wanting to implement project-based learning for years! I have read the books, I have attended the trainings, I have followed PBL people and websites. For me, it was just finding a way to squeeze it in with the myriad of things we are expected to teach-even in Kindergarten!

This year didn't start out ideally for us. We started school 2 weeks late because of the hurricane and were supposed to jump into our curriculum beginning with Week 3-so we were already behind. I told my principal that I wanted to start implementing a Genius Hour/PBL type plan every Friday afternoon. I would use different materials and the kids would work in groups to create/invent something based on our unit for the week. Well, the first 2 Fridays passed without me being able to fit it in. I was determined to do it this week.

The unit we were doing was about apples-not really ideal for creating structures, but I really wanted to get started-so we made it work. I started the week with inquiry-what questions do you have about apples? We watched videos about how they are harvested and stored (they can be stored in silos for up to a year by the way-even I learned something new from our research). We read stories about apples and did apple activities all week. Friday afternoon, I split them up into groups, gave each group a different material to use-blocks, legos, etc. I asked them to create a structure that could be used to store apples-what things would they have to consider?

First of all, let me say that I had to walk around the room several times encouraging them to work together and make one structure-everyone just wanted to make their own. After that about half of the groups really embraced the challenge. I asked them to present what they made to their friends and recorded the explanations to post on our Seesaw accounts. I was amazed at some of the considerations they made when building-"here is the entrance", "after the farmer harvests the apples"--this is vocabulary we learned this week.

I didn't take pics of their finished products which I am kicking myself for-but I did take some pics of their work in progress.

It's something I will definitely continue to fit into our curriculum. I think despite their inexperience in working in groups and despite this not really going along with what I am supposed to be teaching :) --it was a great start!

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  1. That's a very impressive start. I was like you, always learning about it and wanting to get going, but finding the time was hard. Even in Grade 1 the biggest struggle was always getting them to build/create with a friend or small group. That seems to be very challenging at this age. I think your idea of having them build a structure to store apples was brilliant!

  2. Thank you so much Barbara! Well, I know grown-ups who have trouble working on a team together, so.... :)

  3. I've dabbled in PBL, but more following my gut and what made sense to. me. What professional resources were most helpful for you?

  4. I've dabbled in PBL, but not very systematically. What professional resources did you find most helpful?

    1. I wish I could suggest someone or something for you. I end up just following the #pbl on Twitter. :) I know Edutopia has written some articles about how to get started.

    2. Thanks! I've been poking around the internet for resources. I've found some Edutopia articles really helpful!