Project learning can inspire the best of high-performance teamwork, or it can be devolve into unfocused chaos. How can we support each other to keep our eye on the prize? Share your project ideas, questions, and implementation experiences.

How do teachers become facilitators?

Malaika Costello-Dougherty Former senior editor at Edutopia.

I'm really interested in how project learning changes the traditional role of teachers. Now they must not only lecture, but also facilitate group work and deal with group dynamics. What secrets of success have you found?

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6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

Quote:This has perhaps been

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This has perhaps been the hardest thing we have faced in our long journey towards creating PBL school. Teachers are used to being the arbiter of all knowledge, behind closed doors in their classroom, but obviously the technology revolution happening all around us has meant that the teacher no longer has the monopoly on information. In my opinion this is a good thing because it refocus our profession towards what makes us professionals - i.e. our understanding of pedagogy; how people learn.

Taking teachers out of their silos (subject areas) and putting them into a multi-discipled setting where their main role is facilitation is a scary notion to say the least for many teachers. Teachers need differentiation like students. Many thrived in a facilitation role in our school, but many more are struggling. This week we have introduced a script/crib sheet for teachers lacking confidence to follow. I will post this on my blog site in a few days (I have not kept this up to date recently, but if you read it in a few days you will be able to find out more about what we are doing). Hopefully this will help. Team teaching has also helped us; linking confident teachers with those less confident. In the UK we practice 'Assessment For Learning'. The core of this is around good questioning techniques. We have spent a lot of professional development time on this to some effect, but there's still a long way to go. The blog site is: www.armandod.typepad.comBest wishes

Armando:

Thank you so much for this information! I have been to your blog site and it is now one of my bookmarks! What great resources and insight into PBL, the benefits and the challenges.

Erika

Former senior editor at Edutopia.

Quote:When creating lesssons,

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When creating lesssons, instead of asking the question "How do I teach this information to my students?" (the emphasis on the 'I'), the question should be more along the lines of "How do I design the lesson so students are discovering the information on their own?" Once you put students in a discovery mode, then you move into the role of a facilitator because students can get started on something without the teacher having to step in...at least not yet and it puts the students in the position to ask for your help because they need it.

Well put Nadirshah! Thanks for sharing your strategy. I'd love to hear other teachers thoughts on discovery or if there is something you've found that works particularly well.

Former senior editor at Edutopia.

Quote:I've used PBL from the

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I've used PBL from the very beginning of my MG/Enrichment class and then started using it in my learning support classes. I tell my students that I'm their "mind coach". Just as a sports coach can help an athlete discover, improve, and refine his/her talent but cannot play the game for them or GIVE them talent, as their "mind coach" I can help them discover, improve, and refine their mind/thinking but I cannot learn the material for them or give it to them. They have to discover it themselves. I just give them a good workout!

This is interesting. It made me think of a comment I heard recently by the producer of the Race to Nowhere documentary (http://www.racetonowhere.com/home). She pointed out how an expert talked about how today's students are over-coached so that by the time they get to the workforce they need too much direction. But this definition of coaching is so different than that. We all need some mind coaching sometimes!

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