I was asked today at a middle leaders meeting why I wanted to introduce Project Based Learning (PBL) in the Academy. "Isn't it a bit limiting, focusing on one aspect of teaching?" I was asked. A fair question. What we propose to introduce in the Academy is essentially PBL, but I wonder if this is the best term to use. It does carry with it connotations of busy students colouring in and producing nice booklets or power point presentations with slick slide shows, but only if you look at PBL in the traditional sense; the type of projects I did when I was at school. We all had projects to complete at school. I remember thinking it unfair how the people who were the best at art always seemed to achieve the highest grades. The problem was, the projects were based on end results.
Nowadays projects like these still exist, but they are a minority. The original GNVQ programme was an excellent example of how projects could be carried out. The new DIDA programme (see DIDA Website ) is an excellent example of certificated PBL in Britain today. The Learn to Learn programmes springing up around the country are addressing the some of the better aspects of PBL.
I don't see the type of learning and ways to facilitate learning, in any way limited by introducing PBL as the main structure or methodology for learning in the Academy. I see it as expanding and broadening the scope of learning and the ways we facilitate learning. A project provides a context and relevance; scope for collaboration with peers and between different subjects; an opportunity to personalise learning; a variety of ways to learn new knowledge and develop new skills; a means to develop new habits of learning.
In PBL, projects do not have to have the same format. We intend to have:
- Driving Questions
- mysteries; problems
- enterprising/creative programmes of study.
Students will work in a variety of ways in each project. They will:
- work in different teams (learning about the nuances different combinations of people can bring to a team) from project to project
- Carry out team or individualised planning
- create their own resources and share them with others (Using Wiki's)
- develop their own e-portfolio and blog, recording their progress in terms of the development of their habits of learning.
- research in teams or individually
- attend more formalised, direct instruction or training (seminars)
- Take responsibility for instructing other team members
- Play a much bigger role in assessing their own learning
In PBL teachers will take on a new role. They will:
- become coaches and facilitators of learning
- be responsible for ensuring students reflect on and discuss their progress
- ensure assessment focuses on the process at least as much as the outcome.
- act as a guide and mentor.
In short - PBL can incorporate all the excellent pedagogy that has emerged over the past 10 years and more importantly ensures students have the opportunity to take part in a more rel event, active and stimulating curriculum, which addresses the needs of the 21st century learner.
The big question is: Will PBL motivate students who have real difficulty in switching on to learning? What can we do to ensure such a programme continues to capture the imagination of our students? I hope to explore this in the next blog
The files below expand on the issues and comments above:
Initial Proposal This file outlines the initial proposals for the new PBL programme. It is useful in terms of highlighting some of the issues I anticipated.
http://armandod.typepad.com/OutcomesfromContentmeeting20thFeb.doc This file contains minutes which outlined possible projects the programme will cover.
http://armandod.typepad.com/OutcomesfromSystemsmeeting21stFeb.doc This file contains minutes from a planning meeting which looked at systems and related issues.
http://armandod.typepad.com/SummaryofProgramme.ppt This is a power point presentation which takes you through the structure of the programme.
Project Planning Form This form is adapted from the Buck Institute for Education's project planning guide. (See http://www.bie.org/pbl/) The form should be read in conjunction with the guide lines below.
Project Planning Guide This guide will explain the form more fully.