Project-Based Learning: What did the teacher in me learn?
What a wild and quick three weeks it has been. Probably the biggest learning I had from this class was the gentle reminder that I don’t have to be an expert in the material I am teaching to effectively facilitate student learning. I will not ever be an expert in everything- and that is O.K. The beauty about project-based learning that Peter so vividly showed us is it is about empowering students to do the learning on their own. They are the one’s that are doing the research, exploring what interests them, using their creativity and compiling their results into a final product. It allows the teacher to look at the bigger picture and facilitate the environment in which students are learning, but allows the students themselves to own what knowledge they will take away from the project. It is important to remember that I don’t have to be an expert on everything that is introduced into a classroom. It is also important to remember that learning should go much deeper than that what the teacher thinks is important to learn. Project-based learning allows for this.
In this class, we were broken into groups of five or six people. Therefore, the project required us to work together in groups- another very important life skill. We had to not only deal with different communication and learning styles, but we had to together produce and complete a product that we were all in agreement on. For our particular group this was not difficult. For some groups, there were some intergroup dynamics that had to be addressed. Working with others is not always easy. Introducing this fact to students, and also introducing them to ways in which they can more effectively work in a group, could be a very powerful tool for the future. Showing students that the norms that a classroom might create, as well as the purpose, goals and objectives of a particular lesson or unit, are also helpful to utilize and set within a group during a group project.
This was a condensed course and project, therefore, one thing it was lacking was adequate time. If the goal of the project is to have students learn about each others work, then in the future I will need to give the time to have them do this. In this course, we sort of ran out of the time to truly learn about ‘Alaska’, rather, I learned a bit about my section of Alaska that I researched- as well as the section that I edited for a different group. I learned much, but a ‘teacher learning’ to take home is that amount of time a project like this may require.
Overall, I really enjoyed the project. I learned many interesting new online sources, technologies and ways of going about research. We were shown many tools to make the classroom more interactive, fun and technologically creative. Thank you, Peter, for doing such a wonderful job. I really enjoyed everything that you brought to Juneau with you.