|Photo by flickingerbrad, Flickr.com,|
With regards to my group's own PBL, we struggled a lot. Only in the last few weeks has our PBL really become focused and meaningful. We started our PBL by creating an activity for our students to complete, rather than beginning with the standards we wanted our students to meet and designing an activity that satisfied the standards. We did our PBL backwards from the beginning, and it wasn't until the 8 Essentials for Problem-Based Learning was introduced to us a few weeks ago that we really started to understand what a PBL should look like and how to structure our own. We struggled a lot because of this, and it took us a lot of extra work to redesign our PBL to align with the 8 Essentials.
Now that our PBL is wrapping up, I feel like our group finally has the right idea with project-based learning and how to structure it from the beginning. If we had known where we were going from the start, I believe that we would have better managed our time and project. As it were, we didn't have much direction or knowledge about what we were doing until it was almost too late to fix it (we did our best, however!)
I've learned that PBL can be an exceptional learning tool in the classroom, and I definitely want to use it in my classroom. I think that with the proper guidance, patience, and determination, teachers can create quality PBLs that benefit their students. They do, however, take a lot of time to prepare and plan, and if you aren't careful, they can lose focus very easily. It can be very difficult to keep your PBL aligned with the standards and focus on the content, not the activity. It is also important to align your PBL with technology standards and concepts (like the SAMR model, 21st century skills, etc). Like my group learned, PBLs have to be very carefully planned and needs those 8 Essential elements to be effective!