A reflection about PBL tools, resources, tips, roles, and helping others to learn them well

It was a slow week in Givercraft since most of the classes were out for spring break, so I had very little monitoring of my diffi-tools.  I’m not sure if the in-game  tools I created will be useful in Scenarios 2 & 3 but I know that the Wikispaces Resource Page can still be used to add useful tips and resources that students will need to be in survival mode.  I am planning to look for some crafting recipes and basic information about the aspects that will change – hunger, weather, day/night, strength/energy, and inventory.

The twitter session was a fun opportunity to check in with the diffi-team and share PBL resources and ideas.   We had a brainstorming session to help @nfuerst2 with a problem she had introducing teachers to a digital citizenship tool called The Solution Fluency.  @nfuerst2 shared that she wasn’t having much success with convincing teachers to connect with the Solution Fluency guide and wanted to pick our brains about how to create context and value in the tool.  I think the tool is a great way to give students a new perspective on problem solving with clearly defined stages that push them to think outside of their natural element and to consider other possibilities.  Teachers may be resistant to this tool for any number of reasons that most likely have nothing to do with the tool itself; spring break, tournaments, events, grading, testing, lesson planning, classroom management, and all the other factors that take up a teacher’s time and attention could be contributing to their lack of interest.  Timing the introduction of a tool such as the Solution Fluency might be the key to get teachers on board.  Demonstrating its effectiveness in a problem that teachers would have students solve is another way to help them understand how it is used and more importantly relevant to their students.

@Tch2LrnAK also shared a cool infographic about giving meaningful feedback to students; I’m making a note to incorporate these tips into my diffi-unit plan:  5 research-based tips for providing students meaningful feedback.  The five research-based tips illustrated in the infographic remind us to we should also differentiate in our feedback to students.

I found @ScottRoleff’s summary of the major elements of PBL to be helpful in giving new teachers an understanding of what happens in PBL.  I think it can be intimidating to see the abundance of PBL models and guides and teachers trying it for the first time should start out small and use  format or guide that reflects their teaching style .  Asking for help from others who have experience is also a great way to “not fail” your first time around.  In our diffi-team we have a great wealth of backgrounds and experiences and each time we tackle a new subject, usually there are several of us who have had more experience that they can share to help us understand the topic.  @winnsunshine pointed out that the advantages of PBL far outweighed the disadvantages; getting help from others and practicing PBL can help students AND teachers to improve their understanding of the process and be able to more independently direct their own projects.  It’s also important to remember that PBL isn’t for all content and should be used for problems that have a range of solutions and other more complex concepts.  @bortstc37 demonstrated the PBL idea of “learning to be” very well with his mock U.S. Constitution trials; asking students to dig deeply into an issue and learn to play a specific role or represent a particular viewpoint can be a valuable experience in PBL.  @bortstc37 also reminded me that the team roles that I had outlined in my own PBL process, should also reflect student’s learning styles.  I often try to help students step into roles that can push them outside of their comfort zone so it was a good reminder for me to maybe start them off in a role they are more familiar with.  Again, practice in PBL makes for a better question-asker and can help students begin to see themselves as a valuable contributor in teams and an experienced problem-solver.

In my own blog this week, I tried to use a PBL visual that closely resembled my own process for teaching PBL.  I shared about my facilitation of the Envision Program at Oasis For Girls and how the entire course was a PBL unit.  Because I don’t teach in a traditional or online classroom, I wanted my peers to see how PBL is well suited for long term projects and might be more commonly found in out-of-school time programs.  Lately, I’ve been thinking more about getting into Instructional Design as a career after graduate school; the topics and themes this week helped me think about how I would work with others to develop PBL and how I would approach introducing new tools and guiding instructors through my course design!

Any thoughts, feelings, opinions, suggestions?

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