Monthly Archives: April 2016

Final Project and reflection for ET542

Here is the link to my website for the PBL, “Life in the Fastlane, The Science of MHS Hornets” that I created for EdTech 542.

This was quite a process! I am excited to try this project in my classes, although I must admit that it makes me a little nervous. How will it go? Will I be able to manage effectively? Will it take too much time so I cannot cover other topics? These are all concerns of mine.

I think that as a teacher hardest part for me will be effective management. I will need to manage the process by utilizing regular formative assessments as well as meetings with teams.

Like anything new, doing PBL will take practice, evaluation, revisions, etc (just like what I am asking my students to do!).

As part of the this last week of reflection, we are to do the following: Discussion Forum – Let’s Debrief!

Another avenue for self-evaluation involves reflection on the learning process itself. For our discussion this week, use the prompts below to think about and reflect on your experience in this course:

  • What do you know understand best about Project Based Learning? What do you understand least?

Now that I have taken ET542, I have a much better understanding of PBL. First, I understand that the project is the learning activity (Before taking ET542, I thought of PBL as “the dessert”. Students learn content, then create something). In PBL, students learn the content through creation of the project. Second, PBL require LOTS of upfront planning! In order for PBL to work, the teacher needs to plan, and plan some more. The teacher needs to be ready for possible roadblocks, and have paths to success ready. Next, assessment and management are paramount to success. There needs to be continual formative assessment throughout the project. I learned this the hard way a few years ago when I gave my students an assignment (create a children’s book on the solar system) and the final rubric, but didn’t have midway assessments!. Project management is a daily process, of meeting with teams, and using formative assessments to determine where each team is. Again, I learned this the hard way with that same project. Each day teams would get together and research and create. I asked them “how’s it going?” but I realize that  I needed to by much more present in the management process and with the formative assessments!

I think the part that I understand the least are what are the best tools for formative assessment throughout the project. I feel that this will vary from project to project and teacher to teacher to teacher. Every teacher has their own toolbox, and some tools work well, others not so much! Additionally, the daily management will require lots of practice to determine what works and what needs improvement!!

  • What did you expect to learn in this course? What did you actually learn? More, less, and why?

When I look back at the week one introduction, the three things that I hoped to learn were: 1. what exactly is Project Based Learning? 2. how do I create a lesson using PBL?  learn how to implement PBL within my current course structure? 3.  get some great new ideas for Project Based Learning Assignments (once I figure out what it is, and how to do it!)

I think I achieved those three goals then some! I have a much better understanding of PBL now and the necessary components. Before ET542, I didn’t realize the importance of the assessment and management components.

  • What will you do with what you have learned?

I hope to 1. try my PBL lesson.  2. plan some additional PBL units for other units and other classes that I teach. 3.  Hope to implement some key pieces of PBL in all of my lessons. In particular I hope to implement more formative assessment throughout all of my lessons, and more student reflection.


Topic 8 Weeks 11/12 Post Project Reflection

Reflective Journal

The culminating event is over, the project presentations have been presented, groups and peers have been evaluated, reflection journals are in. Is the PBL experience really over? Absolutely not. One of the most powerful forms of assessment and project evaluation is the post project reflection. Use the resources from this week to assist you as you think about how you intend to debrief your PBL experience. Some questions to consider:

  • Who will you involve in the process?
  • What will your proces look like?
  • Is it just a one time assessment?

In terms of Post PBL reflection, I plan to…

Involve my students & myself in the process. Students will reflect using the the following questions:

Final Reflection on  Life in the Fast Lane Project


About You

  1. What is the most important thing you learned during this project?
  2. What would you do differently if you were to do this project again?
  3. What part of the project did you do your best work on? Why do you think that?

About the Project

  1. What did you like the best this project & why?
  2. What did you like the least about this project & why?
  3. What can/should your teacher do differently to improve upon this project?

I will reflect using the same questions, but with “my teacher hat”. Additionally, I will ask for feedback from our public audience after viewing the presentations in terms of quality of presentations, and how the project could be improved for the future.

I anticipate that after implementing the project for the first time, there will be changes to future installments. Additionally, this reflection must continue even after doing this project several times. Reflection will help both my students and me to improve and learn for the future.


Topic 9 Week 13/14 Peer Assessment

This week’s reflective assignment…

Reflective Journal

After reading the resources and exploring the topic of peer review and assessment on your own, think about how you might employ this empowering technique in your own class. Discuss at least two techniques that might be useful to try. Provide information about the context in which the techniques might be used. You may want to check out some of the available Peer/Self Assessment Tools for inspiration.

Peer Review! I need to employ this tool more!

Just yesterday I posed a question to one of my colleagues. The questions was along the lines of…”We worked all last week on star lifecycles, reviewing data, creating graphs, talking in small groups, and as a whole class. I collected the culminating assignment (Hertzprung Russel Graph activity and questions). We tested after the assignment. I graded the graph assignment after the tests, and found some big misconceptions still. Now that it is after the test, my comments don’t have much meaning for students. What can I do differently?” As I asked the question, I realized the answer before I even finished speaking is peer review. My colleague’s answer…Peer Review. Give the assignments to each other to review for correctness and understanding, have them ask each other questions. Only once they have reviewed each others’ work and made corrections should the assignment be passed in.

I find that busy teachers often skip this step in order to save time, but honestly, it is one of the best ways for students to deepen their understanding. They check to make sure the assignment rubric is followed, and also ask questions of their peers. They can also get ideas for ways to improve their own projects. I know that I need to include more peer review in class not only on the big assignments, but also on the smaller formative assessments. For example, turn to your partner and explain….or turn to your partner and tell them about something you learned today in class.

Next week in one of my classes, we are creating poster (either digital or hand). I will definitely spend class time doing peer review w/ opportunity for students to make corrections before submitting the final project.


ET 542 Topic 7 Weeks 9&10

This week’s reflection Journal/Learning Log

One of the greatest challenges for an instructor in a PBL unit is to adapt to the role of facilitator. Reflect on the following:

  • Will my role in the teaching/learning process change?
  • What are the skills of effective facilitation?
  • Will the students develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful?
  • What changes will you need to make in order to become an effective facilitator in your PBL unit?

I think (besides the time for thorough planning) that the greatest challenge of PBL will be changing my role in the classroom. In my classroom, my students do spend a lot of time working with their peers in our daily activities, labs, problems. But I manage the entire thing, prepare for the week the week before & make changes as needed. I decide on the questions, and what resources and activities students will use to answer question. Switching to PBL will be very different. Besides the large amount of time spent with upfront planning, I need to learn a new role in the classroom. I plan to give the Driving question, but students need to work together to figure out what questions they need to ask to learn the material. Next they need to find the resources to support their learning.  Ultimately, their learning is their responsibility, and I am there to help guide them. Once the project is implemented, I need to resist the urge to take over and give answers, but rather guide students to resources so they can  work together to learn to answer each others’ questions.

Effective facilitators need to LISTEN! in my new role, I will need to listen to the teams, guiding them to develop questions. Additionally, as facilitator, I will need to listen & look out for any problems that may arise within student teams due to clash of personalities, students not doing their assigned jobs, or due to student absences.

I think that PBL students will develop not only the skills required of the science content, but also additional skills as they grapple with finding questions, resources, & answers, learning how to work in teams with their peers, and learning how to meet deadline.

I know that with my first PBL, I will need to reflect & rework the project, but that happens with all lessons, it will magnified in the PBL.