Monday, June 11, 2018

Project-Based Learning

What exactly is Project-Based Learning aka PBL?  The Buck Institute for Education defines PBL as
"students work on a project over an extended period of time--from a week up to a semester--that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question". Dr. Sylvia Chard, a professor at the University of Albert and founder of Project Approach, states "one of the major advantages of project work is that it makes school more like real life.  It's an in-depth investigation of a real-world topic worthy of children's attention and effort".  So, if the purpose of PBL connects the real world to school, what are some other benefits of why teachers should do it?  The answers are as follows:

  • Promotes personal and social responsibility
  • Planning, critical thinking, reasoning, creativity, and collaboration are presented
  • Harnesses communication skills (interpersonal and presentation needs)
  • Enables visualizing and decision making
  • Stimulates cross-cultural understanding
  • Allows for students to assess how and when to use technology and to choose the most appropriate tool for the task.
If you are considering creating or using an already-made PBL for your classroom, consider Edutopia's four rules for authenticity.

  1. The project meets a real need in the world beyond that classroom, or the products that students create are used by real people.
  2. The project focuses on a problem, issue or topic that is relevant to students' lives or on a problem/issue that is being faced by adults.
  3. The project sets up a scenario or simulation that is realistic, even if it is fictitious.
  4. The project involves tools, tasks, or processes used by adults in real settings and by professionals in the workplace.
If you are interested in learning more about PBL, here are some resources to get you started.
PBL Project Search
PBL University
A Step-by-Step Guide to the Best Projects
PBL History

Felicia Wilson
Las Vegas

Monday, June 4, 2018

AVID Strategies for STEAM

Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID for short, provides a framework educators can use to “shift to a more equitable, student-centered approach” to teaching (source).

The foundation of an AVID lesson is “WICOR,” which stands for Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading. The idea is that a teacher can support AVID students by incorporating WICOR into their everyday lessons. For example, a teacher can plan opportunities for students to write, use inquiry and critical thinking, collaborate with other students, use a system to organize their work, and read. When teachers use WICOR in their plans, they help AVID students achieve their academic goals and will ultimately set these students up for success in college.

Integrating WICOR into lessons works great in STEAM Academies, too, since students are using the science and engineering practices as they learn. The following list includes AVID strategies that will support STEAM teachers.

Strategy: Cornell Notes

How it Works

Students divide their notebook page into something that looks like this. Students fill out the topic and the essential question. Students write their class notes in the notes section. The notes can be informed by a reading passage that aligns with the lesson objectives. Afterwards, the teacher asks the students help each other come up with higher-order questions based on the content of their notes. Students are also asked to synthesize a summary of what they learned in the summary section.

  • Students write their own notes, questions, and summaries. 
  • Students use inquiry to come up with higher-order questions. 
  • Students collaborate with other students as they write their questions. 
  • Students use the Cornell notes structure to organize their work. 
  • Students read from the provided passage.

Tech Infusion

Have students create a Cornell notes template in Google Docs.

Strategy: LENSES Graph Analysis

How it Works

LENSES” is an acronym students can use to navigate their way through a graph. This process works great in small groups, as it gives a chance for students to collaborate with each other. When students see a graph in a textbook, test, or handout, they should Label and List the essential components of the graph like the graph’s title, independent variable (including units), dependent variable (including units), and the high and low data points into a graphic organizer. Students then find the Equation of the graph and determine if the line is showing a direct, indirect, linear, or exponential relationship between the variables. Students then ask themselves, “What do I Notice about the graph?” Specifically, what is the story the graph is trying to tell? Students then Speculate on what may happen to the dependent variable if the independent variable increases or decreases. They can extrapolate the next data point and predict what that value might be. They are asked to make inferences about the graph. Students then Explain their predictions and inferences by writing a paragraph. Finally, students Summarize what they have learned from the graph.

  • Students write throughout this process. 
  • Students use inquiry skills to predict and infer. 
  • Students collaborate with each other in a small group. 
  • Students use a graphic organizer to organize their thoughts. 
  • Students read all parts of the graph.

Tech Infusion

Have students make their graphic organizers in Google Docs.

Strategy: One-Pager

How it Works

A One-Pager is a creative response to a student’s learning experience. It allows students to use their imagination as they make connections between vocabulary words and ideas from a curricular unit and it creates an opportunity for students to share their work and use it collaboratively to study. Students are asked to use unlined, white paper to create their one-pager and follow these specific instructions: Title the one-pager to reflect its topic. Students may use pencils, markers, and colored pencils and are encouraged to fill up the entire page. Tell students to be purposeful about how they organize their one-pager and have a reason why a certain color is used or for placing an object in a certain place, for example. Have students include two quotes from their notes, draw three visual images, place five essential vocabulary terms around the images, and write a main idea from one of their readings. Have students write two of their higher-order questions from their Cornell notes onto the one-pager and answer them. Finally, students are asked to draw a symbolic border around the edges of the page.

  • Students write throughout this process.
  • Students use inquiry skills to translate their thoughts and notes from one medium to another.
  • Students collaborate with each other by sharing their work and using the one-pagers to study. Think of using cooperative learning structures from Kagan or do a gallery walk.
  • Students are encouraged to be purposeful in how they organize their one-pager.
  • Students synthesize a main idea from one of their class readings. They also will read and interpret other students’ one-pagers.

Tech Infusion

Have students create their one-pager in Google Drawings.

Chris Justus
Las Vegas