Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Problem-based Learning Log

August 26
I sent an email request to CERTL after looking through the paper and online catalogs. I have decided to use Problem Based Learning while working with my Enrichment Groups (Talent Pool). This type of instruction focuses on student higher order and critical thinking skills, which are strategies that are transferable to other knowledge areas.

Date Request Case Number Case Name
Sept. 23 EL0406 The New Ride
Sept. 19 EL0208 Where in the World is Pat Flowers?
Sept. 23 EL0108 Muddy Creek
Sept. 19 EL0602 Wonderful, Wiggly Worms
Sept. 20 EL0530 Look What I Found!

August 29
I received Investigating EcoSystems, Snail Tales, and Creative Communities in the school mail. Since I will not have students to teach for the next two weeks, I will look through these kits, make some notes/copies, and send them back for others to use. I am very impressed by all the stuff in the kits from our county.

September 5, 2008
I received The New Ride in school mail today. I was so ready to use it that I went ahead and planned my first week of instruction for my first and second grade Enrichment Groups using ideas from that kit. This kit works with Goals 3 and 5 from the SCOS for grades 1 and 2. I talked with my graduate school teacher last night, who taught a class on Problem and Project based learning last semester. I told her that I was going to use this teaching/learning model with my students this year. She sounded excited for me and said to let her know how it goes.

September 16, 2008
I started using PBL kits with my 3rd grade and 1st grades students today. In 3rd grade, we are working on the Muddy Creek Kit. After we read a book about a park planner, I introduced the problem. We brainstormed the facts that we know and the facts that we need to know. Students seem interested and involved. Students worked on a planning sheet today. After they do their final project sheets, I think I will have them type up the description on the Thinking Log on my webpage. I was very impressed with the ideas they created.
I am quite uncomfortable working with 1st grade, but doing the kit, A New Ride, is helping me to feel better about it. I introduced the problem. We brainstormed what we know from the problem sheet. We looked at pictures of the current rides and discussed the shapes and motions found in them. Students will begin planning their rides tomorrow. The 2nd graders split themselves into 2 groups (girls and boys) to work on this project (self-direction with me as the facilitator).

September 17, 2008
My 4th grade group worked on the Muddy Creek kit today. I introduced the problem and we brainstormed what we know and what we need to know. I feel like I did a better job today than yesterday, so I think I will get better with practice. The students had some great ideas and voted on whether to work together or individually. They decided to do individual projects and then put them all together, so there would be multiple ways to get from the parking lot to the new park.

September 23, 2008I have a group of 4 AIG girls in the afternoon for math (two 3rd graders and two 4th graders). I presented them with a problem today about being on the welcoming committee for the school, and a new student from Japan came to our school. It is their job to tell him about multiplication without using words since he doesn’t speak English. After listing the facts and the need to know information, the group decided to plan with partners. My 4th graders are developing a skit about the fact families for 6-12. One of my 3rd grade girls told me that she knew some words in Japanese (her father is Japanese). She knows words 1-5, so that group decided to focus on those facts. She asked if it would be OK for her to use that knowledge. I answered of course since students should use all the background knowledge they have for anything. Since she knows the numbers 1-5, the two 3rd grade girls sat down and made a list of all the multiplication rules for those numbers. I am still not sure what they are going to do with that list since they can’t use words to solve this problem (I guess they can’t use English words) but I am sure they will come up with something. As I was reflecting on the lesson, I thought about how the approach the two groups took really showed where they are in their level of understanding of multiplication. The third grade classes are going over the rules, where the 4th graders are practicing with timed tests and games. This is one of the first times I have done a PBL with this particular group. I was very please at the results (I also got observed today during this time, and evidently my principal was very impressed too since she wants me to talk about it at the staff meeting this week). I think I felt more comfortable starting off using some PBL lessons because of the experience at Creativity Camp. I have done 3 or 4 with other Enrichment groups since the beginning of the year.

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