ET542: Topic three, weeks 3/4

This week’s Learning Log/Reflective Journal entry:
  • Find an article on the topic of the effectiveness of Project Based Learning in diverse classrooms. Post a reflection on your thoughts after reading the article.
 OR
  •  Post a reflection regarding your research this week on Project-Based Learning. What were you able to find? How do you think PBL will fit into your teaching style? Do you have an idea for a project? If so, begin articulating it now.

I chose the latter.

 WOW! What a busy couple of weeks! I looked at many different PBL’s, and got so many great ideas. One thing I did notice is that some of the PBL’s had so MUCH information, it was a little overwhelming (for a novice PBLer)!
I had many ideas for a project such as: “The Physics of ______ (Students choose their favorite activity)”, “What do Physicists do?”, “What does the motion of the stars in the night sky tell us about the universe?”, “How do meteorologists make accurate forecasts?”, and “What object in our solar system should NASA explore next and why?” to name just a few.
I ultimately decided on using a takeoff of the Physics of…idea and decided to have students explore fundamental kinematics through track. The idea is for students to collect data, graph data, interpret data using graphical analysis such as slope and area under the graph, and the kinematic equations to explain the motion and make suggestions for maximizing performance. After starting with this, I realize that I will most likely scale it back, as this is my first PBL, and I think it will be better to start small. My original plan was to use this project throughout the kinematics unit which is divided into 3 sub units:
  1. the basics,
  2. describing motion with graphs, and
  3. Free Fall and the Big Four Equations.

The entire unit takes about 45 class days. I think that changing my original scope to encompass just the kinematic graphing portion of the unit (which is usually about 15 days) will be much more manageable for a first time PBLer!

I have found the book published by BIE “PBL Starter Kit” immensely helpful. In particular, when I first looked at the list of 21st century skills, I quickly realized that the project encourages students to use many of them. As per the PBL starter kit, teachers should limit their project “to explicitly teach and assess two 21st century skills that are found in all projects: collaboration and presentation.” (p.35). Teachers are encouraged to other skills, but not actually teach and assess.

After posting my project ideas, my peers have given some excellent feedback. I wasn’t sure what I was going to have students produce (i was thinking prezi, poster, website, etc) in terms of a product. After my peers comments and EXCELLENT suggestions, I have decided that I will have students create videos entitled The Science of MHS Hornets” modeled on the NBC Learn Videos such as Science of the NFL or Science of the Olympic Winter Games. We watch some of these in class, so I think students will see the “real world application”. I plan to share the videos with the school community, and in particular the track team. I am hoping to expand the idea of the Science of the MHS Hornet to other sports and activities for the future! Very excited about this!
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