Monday, May 27, 2013

Project Based Learning (Tier 2) Reflection

This year, I took "Tier 2" Technology Training through my school district. Below is the final reflection I submitted for the program:

Teachers Teaching With Technology
Project Based Learning
Final Presentation Reflection
Teacher: Sarah Hart (Substitute)
Project Theme/ Topic: Science - Environments

General overview/ description of the project: I taught the FOSS Environments Module to a fifth grade class to prepare them to create their own Science Fair experiment. The students used iPods to take pictures and video of Science Investigations in progress and to listen to audiobooks of the Science stories that accompanied the Investigations. I also introduced "models" and "landforms" to the students using technology -specifically,, 3D photography and Google Earth.

1. The key skills my students learned during this project include: the steps of the Scientific Method, and how to create a science fair project.

2. The way I assessed these skills: Formative Assessments included a Science Journal and quizzes. The Summative Assessment was a Science Fair Experiment, assessed by high school AP Science students, using a checklist.

3. The example of student work that I want to share with my colleagues will be: Pictures and video of student work.

1. The most important thing I learned about Project Based Learning and my teaching is that pre-teaching lessons helps lead to a successful result in completing investigations. In some ways, I think this is in-between traditional teaching and true project-based learning. However, I do feel this is necessary to model proper behavior in order to still maintain a degree of classroom management. With specific directions and modeling, the students know what they need to do when working on their own.

2. The most important thing I learned about
Project Based Learning and student learning is that students work well independently when given clear expectations for their roles and final projects. The students Science Fair Experiments turned out excellent. Also, they worked well in a "Jigsaw" project to learn about systems. They were engaged throughout the lessons.

3. What I learned about planning and implementing Project Based Learning is to "begin with the end in mind." In other words, lay out exactly what you expect to be in the final project. Tell the students these expectations. I also found that setting clear roles for students helped the investigations run smoothly. The time spent in planning is well worth the investment. The science investigations required quite a bit of preparation. I set up stations for them to get the required materials, and for a couple Investigations, I did a bit more prep work. For example, I added brine shrimp eggs to 28 cups in advance of one investigation, since there was one small glass bottle, and it would've taken more time for the students to do that step.

4. Perhaps in the future, I'd like to do a little less prep and see if the students can take responsibility for setting up the investigations more themselves.

5. The biggest struggle with this project was a few students who posed behavior problems.

6. To overcome the challenge posed by these students, I frequently checked with them during investigations. For one lesson, a couple students sat out and then I worked with them later to perform the investigation. Fortunately, I had the support of a full-time teacher to do this. If I were a full-time teacher, I would set aside time before or after school, or lunch to work with students if necessary.

7. I am really proud that I had the principal observe me for one of the investigations, and it went really well. I am also very proud of the students' final Science Fair projects. They all put a lot of work into these projects.

8. I was really supported by Brandy Ross, who allowed me to adopt her classroom. She was a great mentor. One thing I learned from her is "don't talkover students." This is great as a classroom management strategy. The way I remind myself to follow through with this is to tell myself: "what students have to say is important; allow them to finish." The high school science teacher brought her AP students to judge the elementary school students projects, which I think is a great Community of Practice support.

9. Next year, if I get hired in the librarian position, I will apply for Tier 3 in order to get iPods in the hands of as many students as possible. Otherwise, I may apply to Tier 2, Take 2.
I have recently started a blog: and a Youtube channel: - I have already posted the lesson I did on Google Sketchup. I may do some more video lessons to help "flip the classroom," and teach students in general.

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