Monday, December 21, 2015

Taking A Run At Project Based Learning

Teaching Scientific Research and Design as a Project –Based Learning course has been an evolution. What started out as short projects (2 – 6 week duration) has become a course with an intro project, a yearlong project and an end-of-year field trip and project. I am following Buck Institute’s PBL Model.

Challenging Problem or Question:  Design and build a solar powered charging station that can be placed in the school for student use.
Sustained Inquiry: Research requirements to build the station. Research building codes. Experiment to find the best placement of the stations Experiment with solar panels, circuitry. Experiment to create robust design. More experiments to come.
Authenticity: This is all done by the students. They have created the designs and plans, chosen the parts and will build the stations. They are excited about leaving a legacy at Allen High School. They will also chose the challenge for next year’s students.
Student Voice and Choice: Once again, it is all them. They were given the basic requirements and created designs that met or were so amazing the original requirements were adjusted. Students created their plans and will have to find their way to success.
Reflection: My students are blogging throughout the process. I want them to understand that they decide when the work is done. They can make the change and learn from their mistakes.
Critique and Revision: This is constant. The first round of proposals was for the class to choose some they want to build. The second round (with one day to revise) was for administration to have some input.
Public Product: The final stations will be our public product, but in the meantime student’s participated in an administrator’s sharktank and will continue blogging.
Key Knowledge and Learning Success for Students: So many skills fall into this category. Every day there is something new for the students to learn. Since my course objectives are scientific process skills there is not an issue with state objectives. Students are constantly planning and performing experiments, researching, working cooperatively, problem solving, revising, and communicating. They are also learning how to love learning.

We’re busy learning in my classroom. Every day is an adventure. I’m learning along with the students and loving every minute of every class.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Things to Learn in a Shark Tank

We have just finished the proposal phase for our Eagle Solar Charging Stations. The plan is to build stations to place around the high school that would charge multiple phones using stored solar energy. We chose 5 different stations from 2 classes to build and present to a panel of Sharks. The Sharks were administrators from the superintendent’s cabinet, school board members, principals and coordinators. My kids were amazing! In one day they changed their proposals to address administrative issues such as educational purpose, safety, maintenance and aesthetics. The Sharks asked them all sorts of tough questions and they responded confidently. Today I asked them to blog about the experience. I am sharing excerpts from the first few I read.

The planning phase of this build has taught me to keep an open mind about other people’s ideas. – Cole

Overall, I'm proud of how much we have done so far in the making and designing of the project. It benefits myself, while I research ideas and info about what needs to be done, to become successful. I'm mostly impressed by how much we've gotten done so far, and how successful its going. – Jacob

The shark tank was a great experience and i think it was a good demonstration of how ideas are pitched in the real world. Just like any project, the final goal is success. To get success I believe that we need to become organized into separate groups but maintain a clear line of communication between the whole class. More importantly we need to all stay focused at the task at hand, if we stay focused I believe we can make a functioning charging station. As of right now I am impressed by the creativity of all the proposals that passed the class vote. I am also proud of the way my class displayed a sense off professionalism during the shark tank event. – Grantferd 

I am also really enjoyed about how my teacher believed in us even if we were having a lot of trouble throughout learning on how to make a successful solar panel.  She didn't give up on our work and take over; she pushed us in getting to learn more about the project throughout ourselves which is something that i will never be more appreciated for. She pushes us in knowing we can do it, even if we don't think we can and that is something i find very appealing and very thankful for. – Janay

These are lessons that will help these students as they go on to college, careers and their adult lives. They need to understand how to work with groups, how to communicate and they can be successful. All of those things are hidden in science process skills. So, yes they are worthy of my class time.

(P.S. Looks like we’ll work on English skills some.)