I am jumping in with both feet to the very large Project Based Learning pool! Here goes nothing! Scuba gear at the ready!
Getting students engaged is something we all, as teachers, strive to do. With middle schoolers the task could possibly be a wee bit harder. They are more difficult to enthuse…unless there is food involved and then it is much easier! LOL!!!
Reading the text book, taking notes and then discussing with a follow-up assessment is not always the most exciting way to engage the students…or the teacher. So, I decided to make some changes to the Middle Ages unit that we normally do. This time I have introduced the Middle Ages to the students through two packets. This was so the students could read the text and get an overview of the topics that we were going to be covering in our “Night at the Museum” project extravaganza. We briefly discussed the topics before starting our indepth look at the subject matter. This is the Museum Exhibit document that I shared with the students to explain our PBL.
The first item the students worked on and are almost completely done with is their expert group for the feudal system. In my honours class, I had the kids get into teams of two. I find that working in partners is more effective because they can both work and be engaged instead of having a third person hanging out and not doing much. In saying that, I did have my college prep class create teams of three. This was in case one of their team was absent and it meant there was still somebody in their group to work with them. Each team has chosen an area of the European feudal system or the Japanese feudal system ato become an expert. They had to do research (I provided some sites, videos, and articles on my Haiku site) and write a paragraph to teach the rest of the class. After this, they made “big people” and decorated them based on their area of expertise. Students could use any supplies that I had in the room or bring in materials from home (which was purely voluntary). I will post pictures of the final products when everyone is done.
In my honours class, the students are working on researching the Black Death. My CP kids will be getting to this next week. I am using Piktochart with them. Piktochart is a very intuitive web based app. The only downfall is that the students are not able to create them on their iPads as they can’t manipulate the content once they start a project. A bunch of Black Death resources were provided on Haiku so they could gather their information to synthesize and present in an infographic. I made an example infographic (TheBlackDeath) to demonstrate the use of colour, font types, font size, backgrounds, graphics, etc… My example is very basic and I told the students I expect more information from them to demonstrate their learning.
The third part, before we get into the menu items that the kids will choose from, is all about the Crusades. Students will be advertising (after researching different types of advertising including social media) and recruiting people to join the Crusades. The possibilities are endless…videos, Flowcharts, social media, posters, etc… They will also be “Tweeting” about the four Crusades from the perspective of a Crusader. They will not really be Tweeting, instead they will be creating a document that emulates Tweets as the students don’t have accounts. There is a free website that is called Lemme Tweet that for You. The students will be able to create the tweets and then screen shot them to use in their presentation of their learning.
After this has been completed, the students will then choose two areas of interest from the menu. The reason for doing the skim of the chapters was to give the students insight and hopefully inspire them to want to learn more about specific subjects. Please see the document above for all of the topics they could choose from.
The ultimate finale of all of this work will be the students sharing their knowledge with their parents at a “Night at the Museum”. I can’t wait and I will blog more about the process in the near future. 🙂