I gave myself the luxury of dedicating 30 minutes of my day to watching this video from Valerie Hannon from the Innovation Unit in the UK. It was delivered here in Australia at the AITSL Professional Practices Symposium. My suggestion is that you do the same, and after that, share it with educators you know so that we can continue the discussions around reconceptualising what it is we do to create engaging learning environments for the students we teach.
After using Project Based Learning methods in my classes this year and last, I’m in deep agreement with Valerie that this is the kind of pedagogical practice that needs to become more commonplace in schools today. I’ve seen my students challenged by imposing tasks, and watched them use collaborative techniques and creativity to produce results that often exceed their own expectations. I decided to give my students an individual learning task recently and was very surprised to have many of them say they would like to do more PBL work because they’ve enjoyed the dynamics of working this way. I’m going to have them analyse the differences between the individual task work and their PBL experiences later this week and am very interested to see what they’ll be saying. Hopefully they’ll agree to me sharing some of their reflections here.
Valerie elaborates on this diagram in the video at around the 20 minute mark (if you’re impatient!). I think it presents interesting ideas about approaches to learning and teaching that would be worthy of staff discussion. For some, ideas like this are very challenging. They present a very different approach from ‘traditional’ classroom instruction and requires heavy investment from teachers to change up their practice and rethink assessment. To gain a better understanding of Project Based Learning, I’d recommend you take a look at the Innovation Unit publication, ‘Work that Matters: the teacher’s guide to project based learning‘. The guide grew from a partnership between the High Tech High Schools in San Diego, California and the Learning Futures project in England. It’s very thorough and will give you some very good insight into what Project Based Learning looks like in classrooms.
We’ve been looking at the draft Technologies curriculum from ACARA for the Australian Curriculum. My reading of it sings Project Based Learning approaches to meld the related subjects of Design and Technologies and Digital Technologies. I’d love to hear from educators who are looking at this draft document to see how they are envisioning delivering this in their schools. Feel free to leave comments (a bit of a rarity in the blogging world today I have to say!) to extend the conversation.