Over the past week I have been searching for ideas for my very first PBL project. In the process, I have noticed a couple of things. First, the amount of PBL ideas and the variety of these projects is overwhelming. There really are no limits in what a classroom teacher can do with the methodology. I also notice there are more projects geared toward STEM and the sciences than the humanities. Perhaps this is just my own bias at play but regardless of which website I looked at, there always seemed a separate section for STEM projects. This doesn’t bother me but as a Social Studies teacher, I noticed fewer potential ideas in my discipline than in others.
Now that I am exploring these project ideas online, I truly get the sense that PBL will be a good match for my teaching style. I really don’t like to stand and deliver for very long. And I work very hard to keep my students engaged. I try to switch things up activities often during an 80 minute class. I focus a lot on relationship building so I know my students well and this allows me to have a positive and focused learning environment. I think all these teaching traits of mine will lend themselves to finding success using PBL
I have been contemplating a few project ideas and have been asking for input from my colleagues. Around coffee in the mornings, we have brainstormed project ideas on “how to have a revolution”, “how to be a dictator”, etc but none of these seemed to have the staying power needed for a strong driving question. I am leaning toward a project that is geared towards the political realm of social studies though. The driving question I am thinking of, will lend itself to sustained inquiry and will help my students understand many if not most of the learning outcomes of our political unit of study in Grade 12 social studies. The question I am seriously considering is, “How do you overthrow a government and then maintain power”. The additional questions that this topic fuels would create engaging learning. For example, why would we want to overthrow a government? What overthrow really mean? What methods are available to the people to rid themselves of a government? What kind of government structure would you replace it with? I still have many things to figure out but I really think I can make this idea work.