· What do I want to accomplish with my students this year?
· As a qualified and competent professional, what do I believe is best for them?
Since I operate my classroom with a PBL model and philosophy, I then think through my PBL practice:
· Why do I practice the PBL model?
· What are the elements of PBL that make it valuable for my students?
As I dive into the semester, I have the opportunity to shed some light on my projects and make sure I’m staying true to the model. I look at it as if I have a microscope on the project or as if I’m doing a project dissection. I think through the key elements of a project and evaluate whether or not my projects embody those. It helps me to do a review of those elements and ask a few questions about each one in relation to my projects:
· Driving Questions- If I’m doing PBL well, then each project needs to have an essential question, which helps guide students through the project and gives them a purpose for completing it. Here are some questions to ask:
o Do I have a clear driving question for each project?
o Is the driving question challenging?
o Is the driving question engaging?
o Is the driving question authentic and addressing a real problem?
· Standards- I have to hit my core standards and skills, and therefore my projects must be designed around my standards.
o Have I clearly defined the standards and skills that I am going to address in each project?
o Have I appropriately grouped standards and skills together so I can teach them in each project?
o Will my end products allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of the content standards and skills?
· Essential/Employability Skills-With each project, I want to reiterate and give students opportunities to develop the employability skills (21st century skills) they need for future careers.
o Am I giving students opportunities to develop collaboration skills through grouping?
o Are my projects offering students voice and choice and the ability to be creative?
o Are my students learning work ethic and agency by pacing themselves and meeting deadlines in my projects?
o Do my projects require critical thinking and problem solving?
o Do my students have the opportunity to develop communication skills?
· Community Partners: I want to make sure my students are engaging with the community and interacting with adults in professions related to their projects.
o Does each project enable students to have some form of an adult interaction?
o Are my students learning about real problems in the local, national, and international community?
o Are my students engaging with people who are in professions related to the content they are studying?
· Benchmarks/Scaffolding: I also want to make sure I’m giving my students plenty of support throughout the project.
o Have I created benchmarks for each of my end products?
o Am I scaffolding each of my benchmarks to help students meet them?
o Am I giving students ample time and in class support to meet benchmarks?
o Am I doing formative assessments that allow students to improve their products/work?
· Rubrics- Each end product should have a rubric that allows my students to see how they are being assessed and allows me to communicate expectations for the project.
o Have I created rubrics for my end products that include the specific standards and skills I need to assess?
o Are my rubrics student-friendly?
o Do I regularly reference and have students use the rubric throughout the project?
o Am I using my rubrics to clearly communicate my expectations to students?
As I map out the semester and work through my projects, I want to ensure that I’m doing PBL with fidelity. If I do it well, then not only will I be able to meet my standards, but also my objectives for my students. Honestly, at the end of the day if I do PBL well then other school-wide objectives and district initiatives are also met. It’s a win-win for everyone.