Thursday, September 20, 2012

PBL and Enrichment

At Denmark Middle School, we have "Enrichment" classes that run opposite of Band and Chorus.  The reasoning behind these courses is to give teachers and opportunity to use Project Based Learning in an environment that isn't focused on covering x-amount of standards in y-amount of time.  The format presents plenty of challenges as well as benefits.  As someone who is learning and trying to incorporate more PBL in my classes, Enrichment provides the perfect training ground to hone my skills.

Today, after a particularly difficult day in class, I was trying to think through some ways to deal with some student behavior issues.  Then it hit me - why not make the problem a project?  Because the rules have been challenging to follow, my thought was this - allow the students to group up in teams, or go solo, to create a presentation about the classroom rules.  They can use video, sound, or just create a simple slideshow to show what to do and what not to do.  This solves two issues - one, it gets the students up and moving and doing something instead of trying to focus on me, and subsequently, engaging themselves in other ways; and two, whether they know it or not, they will have to think through the rules and be able to give good examples of what following the rules looks like and what not following the rules looks like.

The beauty of Enrichment is that I have time to tackle a project like that.  In most classes, there is, as I mentioned before, so much curriculum to cover that even spending a few days on something unplanned places some serious time constraints on what we can cover.  Because of Enrichment, these students will have the opportunity to take the rules they are simply told and own them.  And maybe, just maybe, the learning will be so deep and the end-results so powerful that the presentations and videos can have impact beyond my classroom.

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