Professional Goal: Dive into Project-based Learning

PBLI love that my school is deeply committed to providing teachers with quality, on-going professional growth and development. Among the many things we do each year at PDS for professional development, teachers create an individual professional development goal directly related to classroom teaching and learning.  Each goal should have practical application and impact in the current year and align with broader institutional goals and philosophies. Having spent a significant amount of time reading and researching about project-based learning, I decided to commit to diving into PBL this year. I can learn a lot from reading, researching, and observing, but I learn best when I dive in and get my feet wet.

The plan I submitted as my goal for this school year is below.

Goal: Incorporate PBL Into 6th Grade Reading

My professional development goal for this year will be to research and incorporate more project-based learning into my 6th-grade reading class. I have chosen this goal because of my experience at the Martin Institute’s Master Class with John Hunter this past summer and my desire to provide more authentic learning experiences for my students. Incorporating PBL into my classroom instruction will hopefully create opportunities for groups of students to investigate meaningful questions that require them to gather information and think critically.

Steps to Achieve Goal:

In order to accomplish this goal, I will take the following steps:

  1. Read Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age (2007) by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss.
  2. Read Engaging Readers & Writers with Inquiry: Promoting Deep Understandings in Language Arts and the Content Areas with Guiding Questions (2007) by Jeffrey Wilhelm.
  3. If able to be arranged by school administrators, I will visit New Tech High or some other PBL-focused school to experience project-based learning first-hand.
  4. Connect with other teachers while at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia (Educon) to learn more about how they design and assess project-based learning.
  5. Incorporate an authentic project-based learning experience into the 2ndtrimester curriculum.
  6. Document the learning through photos, pencasts, student reflections, and blog posts.
  7. Blog my reflections and experiences with PBL.

Final Product:

I will know I have accomplished this goal when students can reflect on and communicate their learning through the projects we attempt in our class. Additionally, my blog posts, reflections, and one instructional unit will demonstrate a deeper understanding and more proficient use of project-based learning.

We completed our projects just before spring break. I’ve been working on a series of posts about what we did in class and what the students and I learned from the experience. I’m going to call the series “Diving Into Project-based Learning.” I’m not sure how many total posts will be in the series as I’m still writing and reflecting, but my hope is that I’ll be able to synthesize my ideas and perhaps offer a resource for others wanting to swim the rivers of PBL.

What about you? Do you have any thoughts or ideas about PBL? Any reactions to my goal? I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions as we go through the series.

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