A few more days, a few more opportunities to explore the difficulties my one group of students is having. They are great kids, but working in teams is EXTREMELY challenging for them. I have been thinking long and hard about my plans for tomorrow and Friday. We were originally going to work in independent, student selected groups to find information about the Iditarod. But after a few more days of observing the group, I realize now is not quite the time.
I could plow ahead with the project to make a point, but I truly think that the difficulties they would encounter working in groups would negate any of the benefits this PBL opportunity would provide. I'm still going to allow the kids to select the group of questions they'd like to answer. I'm still going to allow the students to choose the resources they use to find the answer. But how they answer the questions and work together is going to be much or guided than I originally planned. I am keeping my original plan with my other group of students so I am very interested to see how both groups fair with this learning opportunity.
This decision didn't come easily. I have spent a lot of time reflecting upon what I would do and why I would do it that way. My goal for this project is that the kids will learn the information THEY wanted to learn about the Iditarod. Because these kids have never had experience with PBL or independent learning, I know that this baby step will allow them to begin to develop the skills they need to eventually get to full-on PBL.
I often wonder if the crazy start to our school year impacted the community I tried to create in my classroom. I wonder if the change from old school to new has impacted my students. Either way, those are things that I cannot change. What I can do is take a step back, look closely at the process, and think about the skills my students need to have in order to be successful working together to complete a task. And by guiding them through the process the first few times I feel like I will be able to help them become the independent learners I'd like them to be.
I guess we will see what happens tomorrow!