My past few posts have documented my struggles with my first attempts at PBL in my classroom. We've been working on a project focused on the Iditarod. Our purpose was to answer the students' questions they created as we previewed the race and did a WQML chart (that's my own little take on Tony Stead's RAN strategy) at the beginning of the story. After we finished the story we found that many of our questions were left unanswered so I gave the students the opportunity to do some learning in a test-free, interest-based environment.
I won't lie. This was a LOT harder than I thought it would be.
I started with 6 questions that I hoped would get the kids in the right frame of mind for taking over as self-directed learners. My students answered the questions like this:
As we started working on the projects I took two separate approaches with my kids. One group was very guided, and the other group basically took control of their own learning. While each group went through the project differently and completed different tasks, both groups achieved the purpose of the project: to answer their own questions in a test-free environment. If you'd like to see some of our final projects you can visit our class blog.
After all the struggles I had, I am really pleased with how our first PBL experience went. We still have a long way to go, but I think that we are on the right track.