After seeing the entire project together, I feel very confident that my graphics will communicate well with my students. I appreciate the flow of the graphics and their purpose. I look forward to utilizing this lesson with students during dental health week.
I have learned a lot about graphic design this semester. Even though I instinctively used many of the tools we have learned about, I can now use terminology to explain what I am doing with graphics. I have also built a supportive collection of resources that will help me with graphic creation in the future.
I am very proud of the work I have done this semester. It is amazing to think that I only have one semester left in this program. It’s very bitter sweet!
I found myself enjoying the graphic creation again this week. The use of white space is a big distraction for me when viewing graphics. If something is not aligned, contains trapped white space, or is cluttered, I find myself not able to concentrate on the message. Some of my students might feel the same way.
As the course winds downs, I find myself reflecting on the entire semester. It has been a good experience that has allowed me to brush up on my design skills and learn something new. I also have Created a new unit of study, which helps me appreciate the validity of the Edtech program.
This semester has proven to be one of the most relevant and useful of my EDTECH journey. The completion of courses that provide me with a background and the ability to create projects that will be integrated into classroom use is a worthwhile experience and use of my time. I have learned a lot this semester, and look forward to using my experiences to enhance my students’ time in my classroom.
I understand that PBL is student-centered. The idea that students are in control of their learning and the path they take in school is a notion that speaks to me. If teachers are in the field of education to support students, why would we not provide them with opportunities that are truly student-centered? PBL has given me clarity. I know my role in the classroom. I am hear to support my students while they lead the way and reach their learning goals.
Assessment in PBL is an area that I need to explore further. At times, working with young children provides a challenge in the area of assessment. Creating a rubric in early childhood is much different from creating a rubric in high school. It is not that it is not useful, or cannot be done, it is just that it takes some thought and the ability to see things from a five-year old’s eyes. These children are so young, their age can still be easily noted by month rather than by year. This leads me to carefully consider the best assessments and how they are used.
I look forward to using all I have learned this semester. My students will be completing learning experiences that they find interesting, challenging, and exciting. Students will guide their experiences, choose their path, and become leaders. I look forward to putting all of these elements to work and seeing what else I can learn next semester.
As the PBL project work winds down, I now have the opportunity to reflect on my work, consider how my students will interpret the activity, and make necessary changes. This is an essential step for any educator. I have found reflection to be one of the single, most effective, and beneficial aspects of teaching and learning.
My project has some wonderful aspects that will spark interest and assist students in meeting their learning goals. I feel that the field trip event, creation of video and podcast, as well as a presentation will create a worthwhile experience for my students. One aspect of the project that really did require review was the overall communication of the site. Will my students understand the project? Did I leave any holes that an educator might be confused by when reviewing the site for their own use? I found these questions to be of great importance to the overall effectiveness of the project.
The review process has been an important conclusion to the creation of my project, however, others have reviewed my project prior. I was fortunate enough to have input from educators in my own district as I completed the project. This gives me constant feedback and new ideas on how to best formulate each event. This was also a helpful reminder to include opportunities for different learning styles, group work, student choice, and technology tools. The constant reflection and collaboration throughout the PBL project creation was helpful. I can honestly say that that feedback was key to the success of my project.
The role of the teacher in the classroom continually changes as years pass. Research on learning theories and teaching strategies are partly responsible for this change. However, I feel that technology is one of the single, largest, changes that schools have had to incorporate. Not only has the role of the student changed, but the role of the teacher has drastically adjusted to changes in tools.
My role in the classroom over the last few years has become the role of a facilitator. My students still look to me as their ‘teacher’ because I am often times the first teacher they work with. I am often times called ‘mom’ by accident (and occasionally grandma) because children at this age really look up to their teachers. By mid-year, that thinking has adjusted, but not completely changed. Students start to realize that I am a resource and a guide rather than a dictator. They start to take ownership in their learning and in their classroom. They then find success and start to realize that they are their first and most important teacher.
In order for me to assist my students, I need to have resources. I need to have a support system for locating and learning to utilize these resources before I introduce them to the students. The ability to let go of control is probably the single-hardest skill for a facilitator. Fortunately, I am finding this to be easier and frankly quite enjoyable as I grow as an educator.
I look forward to growing as a facilitator, instructor, teacher, educator, and occasionally ‘mom’ (rarely grandma). PBL, as well as all strategies and tools I utilize, is growing and changing. This requires me to do the same in my classroom.
One aspect of my time in the EDTECH program that I found to be most beneficial has been the creation of hands-on, project-based, experiences for my students. I know the benefits of these activities in my classroom. I see students become enthused and in control of their learning. One of the unexpected effects of this type of learning has been the integration of my curriculum. We now complete reading, math, science, and social studies within one project. What has this experience meant to my students?
Veronica Boix Mansilla of Harvard Graduate School of Education states, “While empirical research is scarce, learning theorists have associated interdisciplinary learning with higher levels of mental complexity, perspective taking, beliefs about knowledge and inquiry, and complex collaboration. Yet the promise of interdisciplinary learning extends beyond the important skills here described. In quality interdisciplinary classrooms, students can examine relevant contemporary topics in their full complexity” (Edutopia, 2011).
I have seen the higher levels of learning and collaboration in my own classroom. Rather than completing game-based activities to practice kindergarten site words, my students began using words to create their own portfolio. The level of student understanding of site words was much higher than in previous years. There was also the added benefit that students were all working at their own level, creating a differentiated classroom that required little preparation by the teacher.
Now that I fully understand the benefits of interdisciplinary classrooms, I find myself creating projects without much thought. It is amazing that when you let go of the strict schedule, how quickly you start thinking about the project and the students, rather than the discipline. The time I spend with my students during these projects has been the most rewarding and exciting times in the classroom.
I have not completely integrated my entire class schedule. I still have small group time assigned to reading and math in which to work with students at their level. I have, however, integrated elements of other curricular areas into these activities. I look forward to seeing where I take this guided time in the future.
When I think of Project-Based Learning, I think in terms of several key components.
- open ended problem or goal
- intriguing ideas
- real life application of tools and ideas
- room in project for creativity and personality
To me, the assessment portion of a PBL project should relate to these key elements. The outcomes will relate to standards, of course, but they too should apply to the real word and the manner in completing that outcome should be creative and open-ended in some manner.
When writing the outcomes and forming ideas for the assessment tools for my project, I wanted to use creative assessments that would relate to what the students will be doing in the future in college or their career. I decided that students will record their experiences using the video application on their iPad, journal using the My Story application, share their presentation via Keynote, and share their closing thoughts via a Podcast.
I have created rubrics for these assessments and included them on the assessment page. I look forward to receiving feedback so I can adjust and improve the work I have done thus far.