I've been working on a piece of curriculum that has teachers reflecting on how their practices change when they shift to a more student-centric learning environment. Not too hard. Here's a sampling of 12 (modified from Brooks & Brooks, 1999):

1. Encourage and accept student autonomy and initiative.

2. Make available raw data and primary sources, along with experts and manipulative, interactive,and physical materials.

3. Use cognitive terminology such "imagine," "analyze," "predict," and "create" when framing tasks.

4. Encourage student inquiry by asking thought-provoking, open-ended questions and encouraging students to ask questions of others.

5. Seek elaboration of ideas.

6. Model personal curiosity about things inside and outside the classroom and nurture students' natural curiosity.

Now here's where I'm having trouble. In order for kids to function well in the PBL classroom expectations need to be clear. (This set ain't gonna get er done... I fully understand the need for bottom line behavioral expectations --be safe, be kind, be respectful were those of my last school-- but can't we be more ambitious?)

Off the top of my head I'm thinking along these lines (I'm sure you can "unpack"):

  • Put your curiosity and smarts to work
  • Contribute to the learning of others

Do tell: What expectations or guiding principles do you establish with students?

Tags: expectations, inquiry, pbl

Views: 107

Replies to This Discussion

Contribute to your learning by contributing to the learning of others.
Now that's what I'm talking about. Thanks Bill. Keep em coming.
just wanted you to know I am still keeping up with this. My experience as a teacher isn't in the classroom, but in a model were the teacher acts more like a coach (we call them advisors). Students really drive the project ideas that fit the graduation standards. This type of pbl is truly individualized and grades and ages of students begin to matter less and less.
"Researchers have examined the nature of school environments and its support (or lack of support) for student developmental needs, specifically autonomy, belongingness and competence -- the ABC's of student motivation" (Van Ryzin, 6-7, see attached). Schools and teachers would be better off knowing what their kids thought of their environment, which can be assessed through the Hope Survey. I go back to teacher and student relationships. If students do not think that teachers care about them, buzz words or cognitive terminology is not going to get them to care. The school environment is the key to motivating kids. Mark Van Ryzin's research around student engagement showed that student motivation decreases sharply, as student progress through secondary school. Personally speaking (outside of my work at EdVisions Schools), I think that means we to to significantly alter the high school environment. I will leave it at that. -- Aaron
Aaron, I'm just digging in here again too. I love the ABC's of student motivation and look forward to reading the MN journal article.
One chapter in my new book is all about the role of the environment in pbl and self-directed inquiry. I'd like to talk to you more when I get there-- hope you're game.
Hmm, I think that the "ask an open-ended question" part needs to be further developed by defining "open-ended question" and providing an example of a top-grade-earning question a student would ask another student. (e.i.: "Student is required to ask a question to three of their peers about that person's project topic. To earn top-grade the question must include these parts: state the aspect of their project you are questioning, ask your question. and relate it to the outside-resource that applies.")

Seems like a lot of verbiage, but I think that a large part of PBL success depends upon how you frame questions and your ability to provide a learning environment where students are able and comfortable asking questions.

What do you think?
Andrea I think questioning is the biggest challenge of pbl, from creating the essential or driving question to supporting inquiry by asking and encouraging questions along the way. I've seen data that say most questions in the classroom are asked by the teacher and most of those questions are procedural ("Is everyone done?) or asking for a discrete right answer ("What's the the square root of 9?") We need kids to ask more questions and teachers to ask more probing questions.
I try to set very clear expectations. This includes a rubric, or checklist of how all points will be earned. The kids can use this an as ongoing checklist as they manuever through the project. I also require also lots of reflection through journaling, what problems did you solve, etc...

Kids regularly answer to a status of the class: What did you accomplish yesterday? What are your goals for today? We share all our projects, and conduct a TAG after sharing- tell something good, ask a question, give a suggestion. I also give mini-lessons through-out the course of the project.



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