Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Scaffolding PBL: Keep Trying

Once again in the midst of a big PBL effort, I'm wishing I had scaffolded the project more. Many are engaged with the project on all fronts, but a few never really got invested. They're lost.

The project requires a lot of continuity so if you've been absent a lot or didn't start out with a good team for your learning style, that's served to disconnect you from the project.

Also if you haven't spent a lot of time building and making things, this project is introducing many new skills, skills that many of your peers may have already developed with strength and focus.

The same thing happened with a math project this week. Thinking many students had the tech skills for the project, I introduced the focus and expected everyone to be ready to go. But then I realized some didn't have the prerequisite tech skills for the project. So that meant that a project I thought would be a one-two lesson endeavor actually would take much more time and coaching.

In some part, these unexpected turns in the road are due to the fact that I've changed grades. I'm teaching a lot of content for the first time, and that always brings with it multiple unexpected events and challenges. Also, I'm realizing that blended learning such as the math project and STEAM require support for some students, more support than one teacher can provide. Hence in the future, I'll need to think about how I can enlist the help of special educators and assistants with projects like these.

The choppiness of the schedule right now due to the almost-every-other-day test pattern is also making it difficult to dig into deep, rich projects since many students forget about a project's elements and directions after a day or two. Next year, I'll advocate that we take the tests all in one week to provide some sense of routine with regard to the tests and other teaching/learning areas.

For now, the focus is getting through the planned projects and tests with good coaching, positivity, and attention.

I'll use this disruption to lead to better efforts next year with regard to the curriculum path, project work, and test weeks.