Project-Based Learning…..

Much like John Dewey, William H, Kilpatrick believed in progressive education, or as Kilpatrick referred to it, the project-based approach.

I may sound silly admitting this but I did not realize there was so much research behind project-based learning. As well, the popularity of it all around the world. I guess I did not ever correlate

Dewey’s idea of progressive education to project-based learning. After reflection, I can see how the two are closely connected.  In saying that, Dewey’s (1938) idea of progressive education includes an “emphasize on experiment, experience, purposeful learning, freedom and other well-known concepts of progressive education….(p.3).”

Whereas, Katz and Chard (2013), define project-based learning as “an extended in-depth investigation of a topic, ideally one worthy of the child’s attention, time, and energy” (p.98).  With that, you can see how they can be related. Katz and Chard (2013), also admit

that projects can be done as a class, in a small group, or even individually. Prior to reading this article, it was my belief and understanding that older grades should more so focus on the idea of project-based learning. I had not really thought of or knew the benefits of implementing project-based units in younger grades. Most of my teaching experience includes teaching grades ¾. OF course, I have engaged my students’ very small and very structured projects here and there, but nothing too large, or purely inquiry based. I think my worry has always been that students need, especially at age 3/4, much more guidance and instruction, or as Katz and Chard (2013) refer to is as, systematic instruction. As well, the time it takes to do project-based learning has always been a concern for me. I usually asked myself… What if this takes to long? What if it does not hit the outcome I need it to?

However, after reading the article, I think I need to allow my students to explore more on their own, and let THEM become more of a facilitator when it comes to project time in the classroom. As Katz and Chard(2013) put it, “the teacher’s role is more consultative than instructional. The teacher facilitates the progress of the work by guiding and monitoring the children’s progress” (p.99). As well, I learned about the many benefits of project-based learning that students can experience in terms of academically. Katz and Chard(2013) also talk about the theoretical rationale of project learning.

The four learning goals, knowledge, skill, dispositions, and feelings are all skills we need to work on in the classroom as it is. For example, for feelings, a sense of belonging is HUGE in a classroom. Who wants to be in a classroom where they don’t feel they belong. Project-based learning can help students achieve this goal, whereas one might not realize it can.

I also appreciated how this article describes how to implement a project approach, as well the phases the approach consists of. Most of the steps leading up to the project including selecting the topic solely depending on the child. Katz and Chards (2013) state that “many factors contribute to the appropriateness of a topic. Much depends on the characteristics of the particular group of children, the teacher’s knowledge, and experiences related to the topic of his or her interests, in it, the local resources available, the larger context of the school and community, and the various mixes of all these factors” (p.103). This is my favorite aspect of the project approach. Students are able to be part of the deciding factor of their learning! When reading this I was trying to figure out how this would look in a young elementary classroom. As I continued reading, I realized that there was an example of what the project approach looks like in a kindergarten room. The topic was the experience of buying shoes. The teacher still had to organize everything, however, children were still able to choose one of five groups, all relating to buying and owning a shoe. She even had an opportunity for the parents to come in. What a great idea. I am always looking for new ways to engage parents in

my students learning. After the project was completed, “the children became interested in new kinds of play. They wanted to explore the bus travel that had begun during the shoe project as some customers “came to town” to buy shoes using the local transit system” (p.111). After reading this, I definitely have a more clear picture of how I can use this type of learning in my grade 3 classroom.

Overall, I have a better understanding of the benefits of project-based learning. In the future, I am going to try to be less worried about systematic instruction (within reason), covering curricular outcomes, as well as the time it takes to complete a project. I will more optimistic about all the possibilities and doors that project-based learning can open for our students.

References

Katz, L., & Chard, S. (2013). The project approach: An introduction. In J.L. Roopnarine & J.E. Johnson (Eds.), Approaches to early childhood education. New York: Pearson.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Collier.

 

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Strengths and Misconceptions of Blended learning

This class have been great in terms of learning about all the online platforms that can be used for a blended course. I am always looking for new ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. Not only can I use these platforms to be an online teacher, but I can also make use of them in my current classroom. We have also discussed some of the strengths and limitations of online blended learning and the platforms. I stumbled upon a great article that addressed 8  strengths and benefits teaching taking and teaching blended courses. It was a great overview of what we have already learned in the class as well introduced a couple new ideas. The 8 benefits includes creating relevance, building skill levels, making mobile learning tools available, meeting individual student needs, setting goals, making instruction and content clear, creating authentic tasks, as well engaging disengaged students.

My overall favorite strength of blended learning is definitely being able to meet individual needs. Especially with the challenges classroom teachers are faced with today. I have had students in the past in which only could use a google platform for any type of writing an assignment. For other students, I find that technology enriches their learning and helps them become more engaged with the topic learned in class.

As well, another favorite aspect of blended learning of mine is the fact that it can offer much more than what traditional classrooms can. I could not agree more with Dean when he states “that In fact, an online environment could provide many opportunities that a traditional classroom just can’t afford. One such advantage would be the ability to work at one’s own pace.” As well, I appreciated Melinda comment in her blog about the pace and freedom in which students have when in a blended course. She states “the benefit of this online program is that students can study at their own pace completing an assessment at the end of each week. There is also a peer-to-peer system included, where they provide each other with feedback.” Great point Melinda!

Upon my research, I also found an interesting article about 6 misconceptions of online blended learning. One misconception I found interesting is that some people believe that online learning reduces social interactions as well reduces the amount interaction with peers. However, according to Dr. Tammy Stephens, “students in online courses designed this way frequently

report they have more social interactions with their peers than they do in traditional, face-to-face courses.” So therefore, depending how you set up the online blended course, students could actually spend more time interacting with classmates. Another misconception is that blended, hybrid and online learning are less work than traditional, face-to-face instruction. I can relate to this misconception. Prior to taking online classes in university, I always thought that online classes might be a bit easier. However, this being my 4/5th online class, I have realized that they are just as much work, if not more, as any other course I have taken in the past. Check out the article for the rest of the 4 other misconception. It was a good read.

Since we had a bit of freedom for this response, I decided I was also going to interview my friend about online and blended learning. My friend is in her 30th year of teaching and retiring this year.

She has taught all 30 years in the same school division I am working for. I thought it would be interesting to see her stance on technology, how she has used it in the past, and how our school division has supported the use of technology in the classroom.

Have you ever taken an online class?

  • No, but I don’t have enough self discipline to take one.

What do you know about blended learning?

  • Yes, I know what it is.

What are your thoughts about blended learning?

  • I think blended learning is better than strictly online. Because if there is something I can’t figure out what to do, and someone is only teaching me things verbally that is a problem for me.
  • I am a visual learner and I need someone there to show me what to do.

What technology platforms have you used in you classroom?

  • I have used google docs in the past to share information. That is about it

What technology do you use in the classroom?

  • Computers. I have students do research on the computers.
  • I use different websites to support numeracy and literacy in the classroom.
  • I also use Youtube for instruction.
  • Although I have not used computers much this year because last year my students were doing inappropriate things.

What is your favorite thing about using technology?

  • Having information at your fingertips for myself and my students.

How has your school division supported online learning?

  • They provide the computers for the students to work on.
  • They set up google accounts and login information.
  • They sometimes have online web seminars.

I really enjoyed that interview! It was really neat to get a perspective from someone who has taught for many years. I am now wanting to interview and ask more of my colleagues about their experience with technology!!

Thanks you for reading:)