So, it’s been a few weeks since I started my Project Based Learning task investigating the question “How can an individual avoid becoming a biggest loser contestant?”. You can read about the task here. To be honest, the task so far hasn’t been quite what I expected. I’m not sure what I expected. Maybe I thought the students would be so enthused that they’d be really keen to get stuck in to the research, but the initial planning and research has been tough work.
There were a few raised eyebrows when I announced that I’d put the students into groups but they seem to be working ok, I’m not sure that’s the problem. Maybe I needed to give more scaffolding of the steps students needed to complete each lesson, although I thought it was pretty clear. Maybe they need greater direction on what information to include but I don’t really want them to be spoon fed from me. Is it ok to still lecture the students and walk them through what they need to know if the idea is for them to choose their pathway through the task?
We’ve been using Edmodo for the delivery of information and for the students to share with me what they’ve learned each lesson. At the start of each lesson, I’ve allowed 5 minutes or so for students to review what they learned the previous lesson and to plan what they need to do this lesson. We finish each lesson with an opportunity to organise what they’ve been doing, share it with their group and reflect on what they’ve learned and what they still need to do. This part has been the most disappointing. So far only 2/3 of my class have uploaded what they’ve done to edmodo as a record of what they’ve done. Of those 2/3 only two or three have done it in each of the 4 lessons we’ve had so far and almost all of them have been so brief it’s difficult to know exactly what they’ve done and what they actually know.
I’m hoping that once they get through this research phase and onto planning how to present what they know about healthy living and what they can do to help young people live a healthy lifestyle, student engagement and enthusiasm will take off.
I keep wondering, is it normal that a first project task goes like this? Do the students normally enjoy working like this? What could I change to engage them better? to get them reflecting on/recording what they’ve learned more accurately? Have I structured the lessons clearly enough? Hopefully it’s just as the students get used to working working collaboratively and taking responsibility for finding what they need to that this will struggle.
On the positive side, a number of students have taken the step of using edmodo to share information and resources they have found with the whole group and not just their small group. I like to see students who don’t view their learning as a competition but rather a chance for everyone to understand what they are doing.
What are your experiences? Am I being realistic expecting it to be all roses from the very first go? What should I change? I’d love to hear your ideas and feedback.