Well hello again,
The old me would never have predicted this, but right now I have a dilemma I never thought I’d have. I’m wondering whether I should do a project based instruction unit that spans a couple weeks or just teach the material and spend a few days at the end on a project. We’ve spent about $90 on 6 betas, 6 tanks and fish supplies to explore surface area and volume of cylinders and rectangular prisms. My idea was that we would engage the kids with the idea of finding the best home for the fish- aka figure out which tank was the cheapest- least surface area and which tank is the biggest- most volume. However, I worry that this might be too much for the kids and I’ll have to end up direct teaching everything anyway, but doing it in a PBL fashion will just take a lot more work. But we have the materials, and it would be more fun… but it would be more work… ahhhh. For those who are reading this and haven’t heard of PBL, it stands for project based learning (or you might also see project based instruction). In college I made an acronym for the components: DICT.
D-driving question: the “unit” must have an overarching driving question that is relevant to the content, real, meaningful, and engaging. This overarching question should be able to be broken down into sub questions that relate to the unit objectives.
I- investigation: the students should have the opportunity to investigate the concepts and essentially learn the ideas through the investigation and by completing the project. The most tricky part about PBL is that the students are not supposed to learn the content before the project, but during the project.
C- Collaboration: this means the kids are supposed to work together to complete the project. Each person in the group should have a separate but related role. However, I might change this to cooperative learning for middle school and have the project be more independent since it is a struggle to get the class to understand one set of instructions let alone four different sets of instructions.
C also means community- It is important that community is involved or an outside resource is incorporated so that the kids can see how school topics can extended beyond the classroom (or better, come into the classroom)
T-Technology: Technology should also be used in the project- whether that is through an anchor video that students see, whether it’s used by the students to create things or document the project, whatever it may be.
Just reviewing these components and remembering the other projects I’ve done with kids, I do think it’s worth it. It may be extra work, but I’ll let you all know how it goes 🙂