A new journey in education

My first Project Based Learning adventure – Part 1

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Before I go into the meat of my first venture in to Project Based Learning, I feel there is a need for some background to my choice.

Firstly my school like many in Western Sydney is a PBL school. Huh! I hear you say, “the school is already a PBL school, what is he on about?” Well this PBL actually means Positive Behaviour for Learning. This type of PBL is intended to focus on student’s behaviour and not actively on their engagement in learning.

Secondly and the real reason for trying this freaky new teaching method called Project Based Learning.

Last year during the ups and downs of the timetabling process, I had a choice of teaching out of faculty for two periods a cycle or taking two periods a cycle of Stage 5 Industrial Technology Metalwork across both years 9 and 10. So I choose wisely and stayed in faculty. The actual teacher of these classes around the same time chose to move to a four-day week. This then made an issue for my HT with the lines of the timetable, either I had to go out of faculty or go from Metalwork practical over each cycle to Metalwork theory.

He chose theory. This choice at the time was intended for me to influence other teachers in my faculty, not just the Metalwork teacher as a “technology leader”. With this choice the HT made it clear that I would only deliver the work set and not impact in anyway on the topics and assessable work set by the class’s teacher. I was more than fine with this, as I had embarked on a new path with my junior IST and Multimedia classes.

By week 5 this term cracks appeared in this plan. The work being set was rehashed straight from an early 80’s textbook into Word for students to answer. Obviously not that engaging for the students and even harder to deliver for a Metalworker past, who in past years had set different work for his Metalwork students.

During the preceding five weeks both classes had become extremely disengaged. The year 10 class in particular had become more and more disrespectful and violent. They simply were not learning through this modernised ROTE approach. Week 7 had arrived and the same style of work was given to year 10 via Edmodo and I had a 70 minute revolt on my hands, they simply would not settle as a class nor would they listen to fair instruction from me. What made it worse for me was that I had no control over the outcomes unless I just took over this element of their learning.

Later in the same week I had to prepare my class work for when I was going to be at SWSR conference the following week for two day’s. I went to the year 9 Metalwork Edmodo page to see if work had been set, sure enough it was the same ROTE approach. At this point I had had enough, I should my HT what was being presented to the classes. He said he would have a word to see if a satisfactory outcome could be reached, he also suggested that I leave it as it was for this term and see if there was an improvement in term 2.

This brings us to week 10, this week. I have year 10 Metalwork period one Tuesday mornings. As I do I checked my weekly schedule to be prepared as possible for the week a head on Sunday afternoon. Boom there I saw “year 10 Metalwork, P1, Tuesday. With great apprehension I went to the class Edmodo page, there it was posted on Friday the week before, more ROTE. I could not take it anymore even if it was the last week of term. It had to go; something better had to be out there…

Written by themolisticview

April 5th, 2011 at 11:57 am

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