6. Managing Your Project

Facilitating and direct teaching are very different roles when thinking about the teacher.  Since I use a social-constructivist curriculum already, I’ve been practicing my facilitating already.  However, I have a long way to go when being the best facilitator.  One issue I’m always working on is the loudness of my room.  I want it silent.  This does not work when facilitating.  It’s important to keep reminding myself to allow the students to talk and work together.

Another way to improve my facilitating is to write down a few different questions within my lesson plans to ask students while I am managing the groups and making sure the students are on-task, keeping the students focused on the topic at hand.

One aspect of all our curriculum is reflection on the investigation or experiment on which the students study each period.  This part I usually skip because of time.  However, from learning through this course, this is a valuable part of learning and keeping what is learned in memory.  I will start using this section of the curriculum and finding different ways to incorporate the process into the lessons.

Discussion

It seems like a good time to consider the implications of incorporating PBL into classroom environments that more often than not, revolve around high-stakes testing and accountability requirements. In many cases it may be difficult to convince administrators, parents, and even colleagues that actual learning is occurring in your classrooms. In your discussion post, consider the following questions:

  • What are some potential criticisms that you might receive from administrators, parents, and colleagues?
  • How will you respond to those criticisms?
  • What rationale can you give for incorporating PBL into your repertoire of effective instructional strategies?

I am lucky in that the other math teacher within my school is a strong believer in PBL and social-constructivist approach to teaching. One of the many benefits to teaching this way is in reviewing or connecting one unit to another unit.  If I try to remind the students of a past unit by using the mathematical vocabulary and giving a few examples, I will get a few students who remember the previous unit we studied.  However, if I remind the students about the topic of an investigation (bungee jumping experiment, cleaning the oil out of the ocean, bouncing ball heights) and then give an example, most or all of the students remember the unit and can give examples themselves of the math that was learned.  Not only are skills learned through PBL, but application, communication, problem solving, and team work.

When dealing with parents, explaining how math applies outside the classroom really gets the parents to understand.  Also providing tutoring sessions and extra times for students to get one-on-one help relieves the pressure.  Usually the concern from the parents is that they can no longer help because the math is taught so differently then how they learned.  I usually email all parents about a week before a unit exam giving parents questions they can ask their middle/high school student to see if they are ready for the up coming exam.  Also explaining how the parents can check their kids “tool-kit” (unit notes) and asking questions on what they have written in their tool-kit would also help the students get ready for tests.  Anytime the kids have to teach a skill will only help them understand the skill that much better.

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