Jamie Camp Project Based Learning PBL Chemistry Atwater California Ca Buhach Colony High School
Another of the important aspect of Gold Standard PBL is the idea of student voice and choice in their project. Students are allowed some input and decision making on the direction of their project, how their learning will look, and what the product will be. The idea is to have students playing more of an active roll in their learning, rather that waiting for a teacher to tell them what and how to learn. The premise is that this will increase student buy in to their learning as it creates a sense of ownership.
Again for my first PBL unit, I posed the driving question of:
How can we solve the problem of plastics in the ocean/fresh water.
In looking back on the project, students had choice in how they will display their learning and what type of outcome or product they ultimately produced.
A few of the products that students chose to work on in this unit were:
While students were working on project, I continued to carve out days where students learned chemistry content that was related to plastics. Most of the content was on the basics of organic chemistry involving molecular bonding, Lewis structures, valence electrons, and periodic predictions of molecular bonds due to placement on the periodic table. All of these ideas form the basic knowledge of how bonding creates monomers and through polymerization, polymers or plastics are created.
The days that I did carve out of the project did not really have much if any voice and choice in them, it was back to direct instruction, practice problems, labs, and an exam.
There were days that I had set aside for the students to work on their project. On these days I would check in with each group to see progress and I required students to fill out a project work report daily that set goals and list what was accomplished in each class period. I will admit that on project days, some students were not using class time as well as others. This was frustrating. Even with group and individual check ins, there were a few groups that just wanted to socialize. For the next project, I will most likely give less in class time for project work and focus in class time on making sure students know the chemistry behind the project. Our school does have a 30 minute office hour block where students can freely go to any teacher for extra help or to work on projects, this time will be perfect for this. In addition to this, we did use group contracts for students where each group set its groups norms and rules. Going forward I really need to revisit these group contracts with students that are not using all of their class time wisely.
Questions or comments are always welcome.