Looking at PBL Practice from a Thematic Perspective

So I’m here down in Florida – loving it (all sing-songy like Oprah would say).  I’ve been to so many talks that have been great learning experiences so far.  The weather is beautiful – I went for a very long walk and tried to think about what my talk was missing.  I did a bunch of edits and now I think I’m ready to post it.

Here’s the powerpoint of the talk:

 

Here’s the document that I handed out with some “threads” of themed topics:

Three Threads Document Three Threads Document

Please contact me with any questions, comments or concerns – I love talking to people about PBL and my work.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes….Turn and Face the Strange.

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace I’m going through

Well, you know it’s been a long time since you wrote a blogpost when a perfect stranger sends you an email and says,  “I hope you’re just busy or I’m looking at an old blog you don’t update anymore or something and everything is ok.” It was a very nice email and I often forget when I get busy and wrapped up in what’s going on in my own life that there are actually people that read my blog and my tweets.  I need to keep up with my communications and I feel horrible.  So I have many apolgies to make.

But first let me tell a story that just happened a few weeks ago.  I was doing a 2-day workshop at a school that had made a decision to implement PBL in the first two years of their high school curriculum.  Because it was such a cross-curricular choice, almost everyone in the department was going to be required to teach a PBL course at some level or another.  We had spent a great deal of time talking about ways to facilitate discussion, make best use of class time, allow students the agency to work out understanding together, etc.  At the end of the second day, we were reflecting on what we were still concerned about for the coming fall.

Many teachers had very specific questions about how to put the theory into practice, but then one wonderful veteran teacher spoke up.  He talked about how he was very excited to try this type of teaching and what it really meant for the students’ learning in his class.  However, he then got very serious and sincere – he basically said, “What if I’m not good at it? I am mean I know I am very good at explaining mathematics to students, I’ve been doing it for 20 years this way.  I enjoy helping kids understand by telling them my understanding.  What happens if I am not good at holding back and letting them struggle?”

Of all the questions that teachers have asked me PD workshops, I thought this was the most honest and probably most unasked question that existed.  He was being extremely vulnerable and I think asking what everyone wanted to know.  We had a wonderful conversation about how he coached football for many years and how this type of teaching is very similar to coaching.  We talked about the satisfaction that you see on students’ faces when they are allowed to take ownership of the knowledge in the classroom and each others’ understanding.  It will be a difficult change in his pedagogy but it is worth a try. He’s probably one of the most brave teachers I have met in my work.

If you are one of these people that is interested in learning more about PBL and how it could enhance your classroom pedagogy, I am looking to pilot an online course this summer.  Click here to subscribe to a mailing to find out more and possibly enroll in the class.

So honestly, change is not that bad – it gives me anxiety and makes me worry.  But honestly, communicating and learning all about it is really the best.  I am moving out of the classroom for a year next year to see how that goes.  I’ll be doing Learning Experience Design for Online Learning and also Teacher Support for Math Teachers who are teaching with PBL.  Hopefully, I’ll also be planning the 2018 PBL Summit as well!

Turning to face the strange – and taking the pace I’m going through – please be forgiving of the changes in my life while I get back into blogging!