Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sharing PBL

I began teaching in 2001 and that is when I fell in love with Project Based Learning (PBL).  The longer I teach, the more immersed I become in PBL and the less I rely on worksheets and textbooks.  The same is true for the integration of technology.  I began my journey with technology integration in 2008 which has gradually decreased a reliance on paper and pencil tasks.  While this means that I am working at engaging my students with relevant tools, it also means that there are some unconventional practices occurring.

One problem is that grades are not the means for student feedback.  For some this can be difficult because that is what students have experienced in the past and that is what their parents are familiar with.  Despite my own crisis in faith with rubrics, I value them for communicating expectations.  This can be difficult for some as well because it too is different from a grade.  Because of these two things, I often provide feedback verbally, in a 1:1 and/or small group situation.  Sitting side - by - side my students, engaging in conversation about what they are currently doing.  The other problem? Very little paperwork goes home.  For some this can be difficult because papers are seen as evidence of teaching and learning.

For teachers who value PBL how do you inform parents about what's happening in the classroom?  Here are a few ideas that a few friends and I have used over the years to keep parents informed.
  • Newsletters: a 1-sided sheet that shares what is happening in the classroom
  • Home Journals: a notebook that goes between home and school allowing the children to write a letter to their parents outlining what they've learned during the week
  • Websites: a central place for messages and publicly display student work
  • Weekly Folders: a folder that gets sent home with any notes and/or work that has been completed
  • Rubrics: send a copy home before, during, and/or after a project/task
  • Copy Student Work: take pictures or photocopy student work, during and after task completion for parents to see the work 'in progress'
  • Events: invite parents to project culminations; plays, museums, walk-throughs, poetry slams, author's chair, etc.
  • Social Media:YouTube, Twitter, Facebook (and more) are forums to send out quick bursts of information about what is happening in the classroom before, during, or after it happens.
  • Progress Reports: postcard that highlights a student's current achievement on assessment
I would love to hear how you hear keep families up - to - date with what's happening in your classroom!