Monday, November 17, 2008

New PBL Activities

The 1st grade group is working on a new project where they have been assigned to be a news reporters and are sent to the town of Chewandswallow to report on the things going on there (based on Pickles to Pittsburgh). They have to decide what information to include in a 2 minute news report to be aired on the 6:00 local news channel. When they are ready, the film crew is ready to record their reports.

The 2nd grade group also has a new assignment as a famous author to compose an alternate or extended ending to the story Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox based on how the story ends.

The 3rd grade group members are investigative reporters with the assignment to retell the story of the 3 Little Pigs into a real news story. They must live in a real town, hold real jobs, and have real life situations. Their findings ishould be presented in n a news broadcast or article. These investigative reporters who are involved in changing the genre of a story.

4th Grade AIG girls are involved in a reader response activity involving creating a powerpoint about Esperanza Rising, the novel they are reading/

3rd Grade AIG girls are involved in a project using math vocabulary. After reading several "Sir Cumference" math picture books, we listed/brainstormed math terms mentioned in the books. The girls used various websites to define and find examples of some of the those words. They are using that newly acquired knowledge to creat "Math Vocabulary" powerpoint presentations that can be an ongoing review project.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Effects of PBL

On Friday, my AIG girls asked me when we could do another project like the Japanese multiplication one, which was a CERTL PBL case. In our math time we have started reading some of the Sir Cumference books. After or as we read through the books, we take notes on the math vocabulary we encounter during the book. We have a list of 26 words! They are going to get on the computers and find definitions and/or examples for these words. They have been helping me get the computers ready for 3rd grade's powerpoints on gameshows, so they asked if they could do a project (like creating a gameshow, puzzle, matching game . . .) using the words we listed. I see that as a PBL activity! The students thought of it on their own! :)

I started a new PBL activity with 3rd grade students today involving them being an investigative reporter reporting on the story of the 3 little pigs. Their assignment is to retell the story in a real news story, which involves real characters living in a real town, working real jobs, and being in real situations. Students have a choice whether to work individually, in pairs, or in groups of three. We identified facts known and brainstormed ideas, so they are now in the planning stages for this project. There are two groups of 3, one group of 2, and one working individually.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Identifying Similarities and Differences

I started a new PBL activity with my 1st and 2nd grade groups yesterday about creating a flag for our school that contained colors and symbols to represent our school. For some background knowledge, we looked at a book about the American flag and discussed the colors and symbols on the flags throughout the years. I used questions from arzano's High Yield Instructional Strategy of Identifying Similarities and Differences to lead the discussion. We used the book Stars and Stripes: Our National Flag by L. Fisher for this discussion. Students at both grades did very well with this activity. They picked out some details from certain flags that I had missed. :) We talked about why there were certain numbers of things and certain colors used. Hopefully this book and discussion provided some background for the brainstorming and flag design that we will begin today.

Novel Studies

Yesterday both of my AIG groups started reading new novels. I found it rewarding that they were so eager to read that they did not really want to do any of the prereading activities. Even though they did not want to do them, we still looked at information about the authors and possible projects to complete as we read or after we are finished reading the book. I am trying to think of a PBL activity we can do as we work with these books. Even though both groups are reading different books, both books are in the genre of historical fiction. We are completing a historical fiction packet as we read through these books. Maybe my PBL activity can have something to do with this genre. Maybe students should have to create a way to teach others about the historical fiction genre or create a way for others to know if a story is historical fiction or not.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


When I got to school today after sitting in a conference for this morning, there were 2 PBL kits in my school mailbox, 4 kits in boxes in the office, as well as 2 in one folder on top of the boxes. I quickly looked through some of them and can't wait to use them with my classes!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Effective Questions

10 Principles of Effective Questions (based on Taba’s Teaching Strategies) that can be applied to all content areas, classroom and playground problems or situations, and all informal interactions between teachers and students:
1. Questions are focused
2. Questions are open-ended
3. Questions require the use of information
4. Proof-of-reasoning questions are asked
5. Wait-time is allowed
6. Discussion is appropriately paced
7. Individual student responses are accepted without teacher comment
8. Student responses are not repeated by the teacher
9. Variety of ideas and student interactions are sought
10. Clarification and extensions questions are asked as needed

(The first four principles apply to both written and oral questions, while the last six apply to oral questions, especially in the context of a guided discussion)

Hilda Taba Teaching Strategies
· Structured, generic methods in which the teacher leads students through a series of intellectual tasks by asking open-ended but focused questions
· The teacher needs to encourage participation by all students and ask open-ended questions that will permit and encourage a variety of answers.
· Teachers must avoid negative acts, such as (a) giving opinions or value judgments about students ideas, (b) rejecting, ignoring, or cutting off a student response, (c) doing the task students are supposed to do, and (d) editing or changing a student’s idea.

Questions calling for Variety:
· What else might happen?
· What are some completely different ways these items can be put together?
· What are some completely different things he or she could do?
Questions calling for Reasons or Support for Ideas:
· What are your reasons for grouping these items together?
· In what ways are these items alike?
· Why do you think these items go together?
· What are you thinking that makes you say that?
· What leads you to believe that?
· How do you know that _________ causes _____________?
· What makes you believe that ______________ would be an effect of __________?
· What from our discussion led you to that conclusion?
Focusing Questions:
Grouping Questions:
· Which items could you put together because they are alike in some way?
· Which items would you put together in a group because they are similar?
Causes and Prior Causes:
· What are some factors contributing to __________________?
· What do you think prevented ________________?
· How did ______________ happen?
Effects and Subsequent Effects:
· What do you think has happened because _______________?
· What do you think were the results of _____________?
· What do you think might have been some of the consequences of ___________?

Research on Teaching-Learning Models

Doing research to see what teaching-learning models I can combine with Problem Based Learning for full curriculum coverage approach

What are some commonalities among models?
· Learner centered
· Inquiry or discovery approach to learning
· Constructivist
· Levels of Creativity and/or Problem Solving skills

How can teaching-learning models not developed primarily for gifted students be modified?
· Process modifications (higher order thinking, open-endedness, discovery)
· Content modifications (what is being taught)
· Curricular modifications in product and learning environment (learner centered, encouraging independence, openness and flexibility, accepting, complexity, high mobility and varied grouping arrangements)
What models might be used together in complementary ways?
· The taxonomies must be combined with other models or used differently for a complete curriculum approach
· Bruner’s BSD can be combined effectively with ALM, Enrichment Triad Model, Schoolwide Enrichment Model, Group Investigations, Taba strategies, DISCOVER, or Prism. It can also work well with the taxonomies or Creative Problem Solving. (pg. 156)
· Kohlberg’s Approach to Moral Educations should be combined with a process model like Taba strategies, Prism, Creative Problem Solving, PBL, or TASC.
· Williams Model must be combined with other models to form a comprehensive program for gifted students.
· Taba Teaching Strategies can be combined easily to yield a comprehensive curriculum with the Autonomous Learner Model, BSD, DISCOVER, PBL model, Enrichment Triad Model or Schoolwide Enrichment Model, Group Investigations, or TASC/ (pg. 364)