WWII, PBL, and a Bunch of Other Letters

I start teaching World War II next week. Love love love WWII history. My college American history professor was alive during the war and hearing his stories and seeing his excitment just sucked me in. No matter my enjoyment of the subject, when I teach a unit I have never taught before I get nervous. I worry and stress that I will not teach all I need to.

I like to do PBL (problem based learning) in my classroom. It is difficult because the wifi rarely works in here (7 netbooks, sit on the self with no internet to connect to) so I have to become little more creative than I want. But that’s OK.  Sometimes we find empty room where there is wifi and go there. Nothing like laying all over the floor somewhere for awesome learning!!

So this past week/weekend I have had trouble getting started. So started reminding myself what PBL actually was and how to use it correctly.  I remember the 1st 2 PBL projects I had to do as a student.  (Must have learned something from them since these classes took place 9 years ago!)

The first was for a intro to education class I had to take before being accepted into the Education program at my college. The class focused more on issues in education than pedagogy.  The state of Alabama had just gone through a vote for lottery where the money was used education. The lottery did not pass. So our problem was to come up with a way to get money for education in our state. Of course every group jumped on it and went straight for lottery being the answer. In my group neither one of us agreed with the way lottery money would be spent so we went in a new path. I remember worrying if I would make a bad grade for going against the grain. Finally I asked the professor about my “answer” and what she told me was my PBL “ah-ha” moment. She said, “There isn’t a right answer. This is about the learning.” As a teacher that is SOOOOO hard. Not looking for a right answer but looking for learning.  This has stuck with me all these years.

The second time I was involved in a PBL project was during this same semester (can you tell my school was BIG PBL supporter). This was for a PE/Fitness class that was for education students. We had to come up with a plan to change the anorexia/bulimia climate in our school. [side note, a LARGE percentage of the female student body has issues with this – my freshman year the girls dorms plumbing broke because stomach acid had corroded the pipes – crazy I know!] If our “answer” was not finding a certain nutrition/workout program it was wrong.

Even thought the same amount of research and presentation time was put into these two projects, they were totally different. One I felt strongly about the “answer,” it was something I believed in. The other after being told twice my “answer” was wrong and to change it I was frustrated and annoyed. I just wanted my “A” and to move on.

When giving PBL projects to our students they need to feel that their answer (if it has correct research to back it up) is accepted. That it is OK to go against the grain. Don’t we want students to “think outside the box” and to stand up for what they believe in? The goal of PBL needs to be mostly the “L” – learning. Learning how to think, how to “find,” as well as the content.  It doesn’t need to be “find the answer.” They do that enough, it that was the most effective, assign them worksheets or answers in back of chapter. (That was sarcasm, please don’t do that!)

Now back to World War II. Not 100% sure what my lessons/projects are going to be. I’m still working on collecting sites, info, etc. BUT I do know what I will be looking for in student work. LEARNING! My kids LOVE role play, they respond well to projects where they pretend they lived in the time period we are studying. May go that path.  Not sure. I’ll share whatever I come up with!

Sometimes I need a reminder. This post is really me reminding myself. Maybe someone else needed one too!

a

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Josh says:

    Funny that you post this today. We just learned about Challenge Based Learning (Apple’s PBL) this morning. We talked about, for our teachers and students, it’s a culture shift because of how deeply we want to delve into it (long story) for a specific group of students. But what you touch on in your post about learning and “right answers” is exactly what we brought up. Lucky for you, you “grew up” with it. We didn’t, so the mind set shift is something that makes us nervous.

  2. amandacdykes says:

    I think it would be harder to use PBL if it was a totally new experience. It goes back to teaching how you were taught. Luckily for me I experienced it. good luck with it! Let me know how it goes!

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