Recently my department decided to move away from the traditional 6-week focus on poetry, prose, media etc toward thematic planning. As a result of this I started looking into different teaching models (even more) and soon realised that taking the best of all the great ideas out there is what I think will work for me. I already 'flip' a bit and thematic planning paired with PBL is one powerful way to get learners thinking...I mean really thinking.
The inquiry-based nature of both these models, the potential for collaboration across subjects (and schools) as well as genuinely useful real-world outcomes has convinced me that this is the way to go. So, in a bid to be as prepared as possible, I've taken several steps including:
returning to Edmodo to find it is without a doubt the most support and helpful online teaching community I've ever had the luck to find;
So far I've had an overwhelmingly positive response to my callout for classrooms to collaborate resulting in a group of 5 of us who will be working closely in the next academic year. With teachers from the US and Australia I am hopeful that the learners will be as excited as I am about what comes next.
I am interested to see how successful we will be as there are many obstacles to be overcome but as most of us are one-to-one I'm hoping that the pace will be maintained and learners will be fully engaged throughout. Lots to do before then though so let's see!
Here's a handy list of songs that someone has compiled as suggestions to accompany literary texts. Everyone likes music (don't they?) and it's a great way to introduce a novel or kick off discussion around a particular theme.
I came across this great Pinterest page and I'll be using it to give learners ideas when they're doing 'free writing.' Below is a screenshot of just a few of the many examples. Click here to check out the pins and be inspired!
Youtube is a great go-to for videos covering pretty much anything, but it isn't the only collection out there that might be of interest for the classroom. Below are a few more video options for when Youtube yields nothing useful. These are great resources for flipping the classroom, self-access or simply explaining a concept as part of a lesson.
"We believe that everyone should have the same opportunity to learn. The best way to make this possible, we believe, is to organize into one, super directory the hundreds of thousands of good videos currently available on the Internet. To make this a reality, we invite teachers, instructors and educators to suggest videos for inclusion into our directory, and then to review, approve, and assign those videos into appropriate categories using a wiki framework and philosophy. The videos are the highest quality found on the World Wide Web, cover all major educational topics from elementary to secondary schools (or age range 1 – 18), and are Kid Safe!"
"Classroom Clips allows users to search and explore a wide range of educational content which has been correlated to the Virginia Standards of Learning. Featuring many locally produced programs, users are able to stream video and audio clips on topics such as history, government, science, and art."
Dropcanvas is a very simple yet useful service. Go the the homepage, drag files onto the page and a url will be generated for sharing. Pass it on to whoever you want to and that's it! At the time of writing, there is no limit on how much you can store in total, although there is a healthy 5GB limit per canvas. Another great way to share files and folders with minimal hassle.
This is a really handy alternative to other forms of instant file sharing such as Bluetooth or shared servers; learners just need access to the Internet to share files so distance is no object.
Use this to supplement file-sharing from other locations such as Google Drive or Dropbox.
I've blogged about a few resources for the PBL classroom, which can be found in these search results, but a recent forum discussion and a chat with a colleague made me realise that not everyone is clear about PBL; many have the impression that it is simply incorporating projects into learning, but it rather more involved than this traditional classroom phenomenon. I intend to incorporate the elements that I find most suited to my learners such as the 'real world' focus and it complements my move toward thematic planning, providing a wealth of ideas to get started. My post on BIE is still a good place to start for those who are in the dark, but below are a few other resources that should make the ideas behind PBL a bit clearer, not least to myself!
Resource 1 Got 3 minutes and 50 seconds? This video from BIE explains what PBL is:
Like this? There are lots more on the BIE Youtube Channel and their project search tool on the right-hand side of this page is a great way to see what potential projects look like.
Resource 2 Got a bit more time? Click here to access the Project-Based Learning Professional Development Guide from Edutopia.
Resource 3 Ready to get serious? Click here to access TechLearning's 25+ links to uncovering PBL online.
Hopefully, these resources provide a clearer picture of PBL in its purest form as well as the various ways it can be 'diluted' to suit other models of learning. Many professional forums, including those on the sites above, have threads around this topic, so jump in and join the discussion.
"Generator is a creative studio space for teachers and students to explore exemplary work by their peers and industry professionals. Comment, tag, and share creative work and education resources."
This resource from the Australian Centre for the Moving Image is jam-packed with media tools and opportunities to explore and share great work.
One the best feature of this site is the storyboard generator where you can "create and share animated storyboards from a selection of existing scripts. You can also choose to create your own script and storyboard." Extensive instructions are provided, so it's easy to get started; choose from Horror, Comedy or Romance and let your creative juices flow!
I can't quite remember where I came across this lino (something like an online notice-board), but it's a great source for finding ways of giving learners' options when it comes to presenting their work. It's a public lino so anyone can add notes to it. Explore and add your own ideas.
I came across a great resource a couple of days ago on TES containing a link to a posterous site set up by one Rob Smith. Although only a couple of months old, the blog already contains over 50 video clips with suggested activities from creative writing to discussion, inference and deduction and much more. The clips are generally short and the ideas are great for seeing just how many ways there are to incorporate this engaging material into lessons. If you've got 10 minutes to spare, have a browse and see what gems you uncover.
Rob seems to be a Primary teacher, but there is plenty in here for the Secondary classroom too. Be inspired!