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PBL Frustration!

Ms. Zack Math Teacher @ a Project Based Learning Charter High School Brighton, MI

Hi All,

I'm so frustrated right now! My school is brand new and is an all-PBL School. Sure, we have classes, but our classes are designed around PBL, so the idea is that I'll always have students working on projects with me, and I'm there to facilitate and guide them (particularly through the mathematical portions, since I am a math teacher).

I'm just so frustrated with my students! I've attempted 2 projects with my Algebra 2 students (The Great Debate: Which Cell Carrier is really best? and The Rocketeers: Real life PBL & The RocketBoys). and I'm in the middle of my 2nd project with Geometry (Building Bridges was first, and now we are doing ProjectHOME). Some of these projects have been designed by myself and my colleagues with whom I integrated the projects,and some, like the ProjectHOME that I'm working on now, come from bie.org.

My frustration is that my students aren't engaging. They are whining and asking for a test and asking for a lecture and notes, etc. I just can't seem to get the buy in (which seems silly since they knew when they registered at our school what our mission was!).

Can anyone help me? Help them?

Comments (14)

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Society for Ethics in Education, Chair

Engaging Learners

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Hi,

This is a wonderful example of how 10 or more years of telling students to sit still, "behave", and participate in the drilling of decontextualized trivial facts, often in isolation, can lead to a decline in curiosity and feeling a need to collaborate in order to solve complex problems....

....in school.

At home, however, I'm always amazed to find out that students - people - are always involved in projects that we tend not to ask about. Perhaps you can find out what they're engaged in when they "get off the bus". Are they painting their room? Are they comparing prices of items they are looking to buy in the near future? Believe it or not, the meaningful things that students are doing at home can be valid contexts and pathways toward discovery and uncovery. Ultimately, if the new knowledge they seek helps them improve a real-life problem, then they are more likely to become engaged.

I always thought that the most difficult task in designing projects is creating a need for students to seek knowledge. Perhaps we need to (1) interview our students and find out what meaningful investigations they are already involved in... (2) validate them...(3) and then allow them to use their investigations as a road to discovery. Yes - this may mean many different projects going on at the same time and in one classroom. Regardless, the teacher can tie all projects together by focusing on big and fundamental ideas and concepts. As a matter of fact, having students see fundamental concepts in multiple contexts may enhance their understanding.

Good luck "de-programming"!

curriculum and projects learning centers

Free HS Geometry Adventure Wikispace

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Dear Colleagues,
This is a fun engaging arts & crafts PBL and Discovery Learning website:
http://hsgeometryadventure.wikispaces.com/
It is not a textbook, but an invitation to learning (150+ pages of very visually fun activities and explorations... all levels and merely alphabetical... :-)

So enjoy it anyway you like...

Caretaker of Wonder,
Allen Berg

Journalist and PBL advocate

Build on Their Interests

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Quote:

...I'm always amazed to find out that students - people - are always involved in projects that we tend not to ask about. Perhaps you can find out what they're engaged in when they "get off the bus". Are they painting their room? Are they comparing prices of items they are looking to buy in the near future? Believe it or not, the meaningful things that students are doing at home can be valid contexts and pathways toward discovery and uncovery. Ultimately, if the new knowledge they seek helps them improve a real-life problem, then they are more likely to become engaged.

Phil,
Great suggestions for building on students' interests. As you suggest, interviewing students about their out-of-school interests is a good way to start. I wonder about other strategies teachers might consider, such as: Having students interview each other? Develop interest inventories that could be springboards for projects? Using game-based approach to identify students' special "powers"?
What else?
Would love to hear how others are coming at this.

high school, physical education

looking for help for Physical education

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I am just beginning to take the step and dare to create a PBL unit for my Physical Education classes. Is there anyone who can help me find some sample PBL units for P.E.? I would love to collaborate with other educators to accomplish a successful, meaningful PBL.

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