The Biggest Loser Challenge: My PBL journey Volume 2

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.

The Biggest Loser Challenge: My PBL journey Volume 1

Well, I’ve taken the first step in my PBL journey. After toying with it for a while and watching tweets fly between Bianca Hewes and Dean Groom, I’ve finally decided to take the plunge. As I looked at a teaching programme we’ve been using for a few years now with year 9, I realised it was becoming a little tired, I realised it needed to change.

I put a call out to a few of my twitter PLN for a driving question for my project. @BenPaddleJones came up with “How will you ensure you never end up on the biggest loser”. Considering the Australian series has just finished, it struck a chord. The number one issue of faced is time – it’s been hectic to get this thing of the ground because from the time I started planning it, to when I intended to teach it was only 24hrs!! Ridiculous. Anyway, after a quick chat with Bianca only 2 hrs before kick off, I managed to buy myself 48hrs – which brings me to now. What a whirlwind that conversation was! She explained how the hook lesson will work, how to do circle time, how to set up my groups and started me thinking about the possibility of using a narrative and that I could ‘gamify’ my unit. Wow, so much to do but it certainly got me excited at the possibilities starting to build for this unit. (I think I may have frightened my faculty a little with my enthusiasm!)

I went with a narrative that the TV channel that runs the program is after a team of health experts to create a plan for educating school aged children on healthy living. Students will be put into groups to create a research investigation of the syllabus information, create a presentation and will finally present their plan to a panel of experts (their classmates, PE teachers and hopefully a personal trainer or health professional).

Tomorrow is ‘D’ day for delivery and explaining it to the class. BUT, there’s still time to improve. I’d love you to have a look at what I’ve come up with so far and leave me some feedback on ideas that I might be able to implement. You can check out the document below.

I must finish by giving credit to The Molistic View’s willingness to share his experiences and his project through his blog. It’s given me plenty of ideas as well as an idea of what to expect. Thanks.