One advantage of this course is it has allowed me to plan something tangible for one of the classes I am currently teaching. This semester I am teaching Social 30-1 (Grade 12 Social Studies) which inspired the topic of my PBL project on overthrowing governments. Over the last few weeks I actually implemented this with my students so I am in a good position to comment to this weeks discussion questions. Below you will find my reflections on these questions.
- Will my role in the teaching/learning process change?
Teachers have many roles in the classroom. Depending on the day, we can be content experts who lecture, test administrators, guidance counsellors, group facilitators, classroom managers, idea generators and cheerleaders. I also believe each teacher has a "default" role that dominates their teaching style. That is to say, teachers are skilled in many roles but each teacher I work with develops a dominant teaching style and that differs with each individual. Working in a PBL environment though forces us to abandon some of those traditional roles and nurture the facilitator aspect of our teaching personality. One needs to guide the student through the process instead of merely telling them what to do
- What are the skills of effective facilitation?
To be an effective facilitator, you need to first develop relationships with your students. The student that has a relationship with their teacher can then trust that adult and respect the constructive criticism that is offered. These relationships make the constant reflection and revision painless and a natural part of the process.
- Will the students develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful?
I am confident they will. From what I saw in my short experience with my PBL project, my students developed an ownership in their learning I don't always see. They were able to manage a large amount of information, work cooperatively, use technology effortlessly and produce something they were proud of.
- What changes will you need to make in order to become an effective facilitator in your PBL unit?
I still have the tendency to over prescribe activities so I think I need to allow more student choice in how time is spent during the PBL unit. By grade 12, students are relative experts on how a class should be run so I may have them decide how a mini lesson should be taught for example. Maybe they want to read an article instead of having me explain it or maybe they want to use a simulation instead of a reading. I teach teenagers and now that I have a teen of my own in my house I have come to realize something very important. Adolescence is where you try things on your own from time to time while having an adult close by to help if needed. We were all given the keys to the family car for the first time at one point in our life and I think we do our students an important service if we allow them to direct their own learning from time to time as well.