Samantha's Mini-Course: Project-Based Learning
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How can we get students to gain a deeper understanding of class material and show us they understand?
In today’s classroom it seems and research has agreed that students learn best being hands-on in the classroom. As time goes on, the traditional structure of a classroom should be changing to foster additional ways in which students show their understanding of the content. In a project based learning classroom the teacher gives the students a “whole” concept and they must work together to find the “parts” of the content and bring it back together. The students are given resources, technology, support, and students must research concepts and apply them to their learning. Students are involved in multidisciplinary assignments and the classroom is centered on them, not the teacher.
A project based environment gives way for a classroom filled with student opportunities that help students gain better problem solving techniques, connecting and addressing real life issues, is facilitated by the teacher, and lets students take control of how and the best way of learning the instruction. Project based learning has been found to motivate students, encourage a deeper way of thinking and promote collaboration between students and teacher.
Project based learning is also very beneficial when students are able to create their own rubric for their projects. Creating a rubric decreases student confusion of what is expected and a clearer picture on what they are responsible for in their learning.
By the end of this lesson educator will learn how to assess students in a project based learning classroom
Students should learn to create their own rubrics! Why? Because it improves student motivation, interest, and performance in their projects
What are rubrics?
Rubrics are a scoring guide that evaluates a student's performance based on a full range of criteria. Rubrics are authentic assessments that measure students' work. Authentic assessments are used to evaluate students' work by measuring the product according to real life criteria. A rubric enhances the quality of direct instruction. Assessment should provide students with the information they need to make their work better through helpful, specific, and timely feedback. There are two ways students can create this rubric.
How do they benefit students?
When students create rubrics beforehand, they understand how they will be evaluated and can prepare accordingly. Developing a grid and making it available as a tool for students' use will provide the scaffolding necessary to improve the quality of their work and increase their knowledge. Students can use rubrics as a tool to develop their abilities.
Why should students create their own rubrics?
When students create their own rubrics they are able to set their goals, revise them, then critique them again, until the work is of really high quality. This allows the students to get much more high quality feedback from themselves, their group members, and their teachers.
Steps in the creation of student generated rubrics:
- Use the board to create a grid, similar to the one created on a word document. List the importance concepts that must be presented in the project.
- Show the class an example of a project from previous years or a teacher created project. Work with the class to give and receive feedback from the students. This really helps them figure out what they are looking for in the rubric.
- Brainstorm criteria for grading. Is working together important? Collaboration? Is it important that you create an rough draft first?
- Discuss with the students how they want feedback to be given to them; numbers or written comments? How should points or numerical scores be distributed in the rubric? How and when will the rubric be used? This discussion reveals what students really value in their project work.
- Build the final rubric based on the students’ ideas. Allow them to work with it, to reflect on their own work and that of their peers, so it is a working document guiding them through the project.
- Lastly, the teacher may want to make the audience part of the assessment process. The audience can be more important than any feedback they will get from their teacher.
Now it's time to synthesize project based learning in your content area
Project Based Lesson Planner: (copy the following planning method into a word document and fill out)
Content/problem/ask a question: Start with finding a good driving question, specific content knowledge, or a real issue that connects to the students. Think of the topic and its content- what do you want students to learn about the content? How can they prove they have developed an understanding by showing you their project?
Research: is there an ample amount of information available for your students?
Project Plan: How can a group of students show you they understand the information? What types of projects allow you to see their comprehension? (i.e. The issue/content is world hunger, students conduct a food drive for local food pantries, students attend a town hall meeting and make a speech, students research world hunger and come up with new ways in which to fight it, etc.)
Content Standards & Objectives: Identify the objectives explicitly taught or learned through discovery within this project design; identify the learning targets and the evidence of student mastery for each learning target within each objective. Be sure the project meets the criteria for standards-focused PBL.
21st Century Skills: Identify the Learning Skills and Technology Tools Standards that students will practice in this project.
Assessment Plan: Define independently or with your class the products and artifacts for the project. Be sure to include a variety of assessments for learning that are closely tied to the content, learning skills and technology tools outcomes. The products and criteria must align with the objectives and outcomes for the project. State the criteria for exemplary performance for each product.
Project Evaluation: How will you and your students reflect on and evaluate the project?
- Please fill out the KWL with your knowledge of project based learning
After your KWL is complete please answer the following questions by clicking on the link: http://padlet.com/wall/9cb21b5g9m
- Do you think project based learning is beneficial to students and their teachers?
- Is there anything you wanted to learn that wasn't covered?
- Overall course feedback