My year 12 class have now completed their study of Huxley’s Brave New World and written an end of unit test. Will I teach it as a project again?
1. The class enjoyed working in groups and having choice about the activities that they completed and when they completed them. This was great for the students who were self motivated and interested in the novel. As I said in an earlier blog, a previously difficult to motivate student really got on board with this and created some great work.
2. Having access to the internet and devices enabled the students to use prescribed websites for the information that they needed. They developed their reading and selecting appropriate information skills and they could do this when they needed to as opposed to when the teacher told them to.They were able to create polished presentations.
3. The notes recorded, observations made and activities created were really pleasing. There was definitely higher order thinking going on. I enjoyed discussing the driving question and it’s relevance to each aspect of the novel with each group.
1. There was one group who always had a missing team member so they did not complete very much of their part of the study guide. They used this as an excuse to waste time. I gave them my iPad to use and spent time trying to motivate them to no avail.
2. This style of learning did not suit everyone. I have noticed that the students who are most difficult to motivate with old school chalk and talk teaching are not going to suddenly start working because of PBL. It is not a magic bullet. In fact, because PBL requires a lot of group work and self motivation, they end up doing less! Or one person does everything.
3. The end of unit essay was disappointing. Only 2-3 students failed but most did not discuss the driving question at all and the higher level thinking I saw in their earlier work was mostly not included.
Opportunities for the future
1. I explained what PBL was and how it worked before we started the unit which was a good thing but I think we need to talk about how to work in a group effectively. What the positives and negatives are and how to deal with them.
2. Differentiation is essential. I need to provide more structure and scaffolding for the weaker and/or less motivated students.
3. There seems to be a link missing between PBL and writing an effective essay – this is something to work on, how to use the information researched and the analysis of the driving question in an essay.
1. I have been lucky with this class, they are beautifully behaved and many of them have either a smart phone or a device. Will I be so fortunate next year?
So, will I teach it this way again next year? Definitely! I have learned a lot and am keen to get better so bring it on!