I decided I wanted to try Projects Based Learning (PBL) after reading more about it and reviewing the Wikipedia definition:
A student-centered pedagogy that involves a dynamic classroom approach in which students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems.Students learn about a subject by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, challenge, or problem.
I figured it would be fun to try PBL with my next unit, “Stories my Grandparents Tell” that focuses on time (past/present) and needs and wants. Also, the The Five E’s was recently reintroduced (I am sure I learned about it years ago, but have never actually incorporated it in my lesson plans for some reason) and I thought that was a perfect way to focus more on inquiry and make this unit more projects based.
The five E’s begins with Engage, then Explore followed by Explain. I had always done the Engage portion, however I would mix the explore and explain. I quickly realized that if I explained everything, then went to explore, the children are not really asking questions or wondering about what is happening since I had already told them what would most likely happen. Seems so simple to reverse, yet I had never done that and realize the disservice I was doing by not allowing the children to explore and inquire about what they explored.
I decided to try to Explore before Explain while working with the thermometer and I was impressed at how well the children noticed what was happening and coming up with some of their own conclusions and questions while exploring. When I explained the thermometer after exploring with it, explaining seemed so much easier! The children understood what I was talking about and could relate to it more because they’ve already explored.
So with all these new ideas on how to create my unit and try to make it as PBL as possible while incorporating the five E’s, I came across some major roadblocks. I was trying to think of ways to engage and explore about the past and technology of the past without doing too much explaining first. I struggled with ways to have the children explore more since they were not around in the past. I planned to use pictures, videos, etc. with the hope that they can get some ideas (I will even show them pictures from my childhood).
Then I thought it would be fun to do some interviewing. Of course, interviewing their grandparents is a must, but I figured it may be fun to practice on someone closer to their age who is still a student. I am hoping I can round up some high schoolers keen to work with the younger kids and willing to be interviewed and share their experiences from when they first began school. Ten years is not a huge age difference, but the children in my classroom have a completely different experience than the high school children did (I know this because the way I taught ten years ago was completely different than now!) I hope to have the students generate their own questions for their interviews based on some of the pictures and videos we looked at.
Hopefully we can videotape the high school interviews and watch them in class to discuss them more (not only how to interview people, but what exactly the high school’s past was like compared to their lives). Once the children are more comfortable with interviewing, then we will discuss more about tools and technology and the differences from now and then. The children can use the same questions asked in the beginning or generate new questions to ask their grandparents (or parent). We will not be able to videotape those interviews (many will not be in English and will require some translation help from the parents) but I am hoping we can get some pictures from some of the people being interviewed. That would help bring things into perspective and would be a great experience for the children and their families!
I am not sure how to make this more hands on and add more technology. Take a look at the unit and any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated! I’ll begin the unit in January and we shall see how it goes (more to come on the final project in course five!)