I’ve decided to go with a project based on entrepreneurship. This past school year, my district’s 4th graders completed a field test for the next generation of assessments. The test was quite heavy with questions relating to entrepreneurship. To help hit some of those standards, the 4th grade Social Studies teacher completed a unit on entrepreneurship with a culminating “meaning light” project asking the students to create a poster for a business. Coming away from the unit, I’m guessing the students took away very little about what it means to be an entrepreneur and what exactly and entrepreneur is. In an effort to create a meaningful, and lasting learning experience I went with a project about entrepreneurship.
As I’ve completed these first stages of the project I was surprised to find that the state of Ohio actually has a set of standards in relation to entrepreneurship, the K-12 Entrepreneurship Standards. This speaks to the importance the state is placing on teaching entrepreneurship. I’m also surprised at the number of standards a teacher can cover not just in Social Studies but within ELA, Math, and Technology.
I’ve decided to use Wix to create my project site. I used Wix previously for EDTECH 554. I like the professional look of the templates with a large degree of freedom in the layout and look of individual pages within the site.
In thinking of the elements of project based learning I can understand the benefits of such methodology. PBL creates engagement and motivation within learners to research, think critically, and problem solve. It offers a degree of freedom and choice allowing all types of learners to participate. The limited research shows students involved in PBL show decreased anxiety toward some content areas, more positive attitudes toward learning, and little difference between academic performance and socioeconomic levels (David, 2008). David (2008) points out, most research focuses on the challenges of implementing PBL, to which there are many. These challenges range from a lack in training to demands of curriculum and testing, to the time and effort required to plan, implement, and manage PBL. For one teacher with a class of 25 students implementing PBL is a scary prospect, especially if it the first time for the project, because there are bound to be kinks and snags along the way.
PBL is a challenging fit within the demands and expectations of many public school teachers, but as David (2008) suggests, teachers can use the key ideas of PBL to motivate and challenge students with real world problems.
David, J. (2008, February). What research says about … / project-based learning. Educational Leadership, 65:5, 80-82. Retrieved June 12, 2014, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/feb08/vol65/num05/Project-Based_Learning.aspx
I have to say, I’m not looking forward to the amount of reading in the course, but as I begin, I greatly look forward to the potential benefits of the knowledge and experience I gain here with Dr. Thompson. Prior to the course I’ve had little experience with program evaluation, and just one week into the course I already see where this process has been overlooked in my current district. I’ve always been frustrated by the purchase of technology just for the sake of having it in the classroom. It is irresponsible and ineffective. I’m hoping to take my experiences and possibly my evaluation results to the administration to demonstrate the need of evaluation within our district.
My thoughts are scattered as I begin to make sense of PBL, but as I begin to delve into the idea of Project Based Learning, I wonder why this isn’t pushed more? In many aspects students see teachers and school as boring and irrelevant. Why would a student want to sit and listen to a teacher lecture when they can watch more interesting videos, play games and read about the same content at home or even on their cell phone. With all this knowledge available at the touch of a button or even at the sound of a voice the role of teachers is beginning to shift. If we want to stay relevant and prepare students for the 21st Century PBL seems to be the way to go. As teachers we have to move beyond surface level instruction and provide students with opportunities to dig deeper. The article 8 Essentials for Project-Based Learning by Larmer and Mergendoller, was my first experience with PBL, and I have to say it excites me to start a new school year. I am anxious to develop new projects and share these concepts with my colleagues.
In addition, I found it interesting how much the 8 essential elements for PBL coincide with John Keller’s ARCS Theory of Motivational Design. Each of the 8 essential elements fits somewhere within Keller’s breakdown of Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Success. These ideas are important to me because I strive to engage each of my students. Too often teacher’s write students off because they are disinterested or unmotivated. This to me is failing to do my job.