PBL Rollercoaster

Integrating PBL into our grade 2 program with the support of the Cohort 21 community has been a very positive experience. I was especially inspired by the message of "trying something new this coming Monday rather than someday" - as I've had many a someday plan that never came to fruition. I was determined not to let this happen to my PBL plans, so I quickly dove in and explored it with my grade 2 students. The process was a roller coaster ride of emotions, successes, and fails.

The "Ups"

  • students' curiousity and wonderment revealed in their questions
  • the entire 1st PBL project on animals
  • independent PBL projects for students during guided writing periods
  • support from our Head of Curriculum, librarian, and grade 4 reading buddies
  • Google Hangouts with experts

The "Downs"

  • research stages of our 2nd PBL project on countries
  • finding reading material/videos at individual ability levels to answer questions was very time consuming
  • some struggled to find the answers to their questions even when books etc... contained the info they were looking for
    • some students lacked the persistence and risk taking necessary to find the answers to their questions

The "Loop de Loops"

  • changing my HMW from PBL to gifted students and back to a PBL
    • thanks to fellow Cohort 21 participants it was brought to my attention that PBL is a great way to engage gifted students
  • full range of emotions

The "Thrill Factor"

  • the unknown paths (scary but exciting) the children's questions would lead us down
  • seeing different types of student thinking (more creative) than what is often seen during traditional lessons

I think the most valuable thing I learned from this experience is that it is ok to fail when you are trying something new. Although I've always encouraged my students to feel comfortable making mistakes I never gave myself the same permission. Not everything is going to turn out as expected, and it's an important part of the learning process. This yearlong journey is "the end of beginning" of having the courage to take more risks in the classroom. I'm excited to see where this takes me.