I finished my first project-based learning unit, “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?” two weeks ago. Here are some of the skills my students learned during this project:
- Wind is a force and you can make build in a way to make something wind-resistant.
- Architects use different roof designs to help with wind resistance.
- We are better working together. It may be a challenge but it is very beneficial.
- An estimation is not always accurate.
- You need to re-evaluate a plan and make it better if you are not getting the results you want.
- The cost of building a house, even a pretend one, adds up quickly.
- There are many ways to solve difficult math problems.
- How to add numbers within a thousand
- Adding multiples
- How to add 3 or more two-digit numbers
- You can manipulate the numbers to get friendly numbers. This makes problems easier to solve.
- You don’t always have to know how to do something before you try it.
- How to write a persuasively
- To be persuasive, you need to show passion behind what you are saying.
- How to speak clearly and share information
- A real-estate agent works hard to persuade buyers. They use very descriptive words to help sell a house.
- Projects are more fun when you are creative and open to new ideas.
- You may have to rewrite many times before you are happy to call it the final draft.
- Everyone needs to feel valued in the group or they will live up to that expectation.
- If the learning is exciting, no one has to convince you to keep working.
- My idea is not always the best idea. Even if it is, it may not be chosen by my team.
- We can’t all win. The 3 pigs liked all the houses but only one was the best fit for them. I can handle that even if I worked hard. I can still be proud of my work.
- How to write a summary
Ironically, what I learned from my first attempt of pbl is very similar.
- My estimation of how much time the project would take was a little off but I could make it work in the end because I saw value in what they were learning.
- They can do things I have not taught them. Because I gave an open problem, it allowed them to learn things in a meaningful way and it belongs to them and not to me. Isn’t this what I want?
- Excitement and passion are contagious. Sometimes, I was the one who was super passionate about the parts of the project and it spread to them. Most of the time, it started with them.
- They didn’t mind rewriting or rebuilding because they had a goal in mind. The driving question gave them a goal that they wanted to reach. I didn’t have to tell them that they needed to go back to rewrite their presentation or rebuild their house. They knew it on their own.
- Just because I haven’t taught a pbl unit before, it did not stop me from trying it. And I LOVED it. I didn’t have official training on how to develop a pbl unit nor did I attend a workshop. I read blog posts, read the book PBL in the Elementary Grades from Buick Institute, talked to others on twitter, attended chats, and finally just stepped out there! I did ask for help from those who have taught them before but you just have to try it!
- We are better together. It was nice to have another teacher do the project with me. @LesaHaney’s class joined ours. It was great to have someone walk on the journey together, especially since it was untraveled territory for me.
While this was my first project-based learning unit, it will not be my last. In fact, we are already in another one. 🙂