EDTECH 542 Article Reflection

After researching project ideas and the effectiveness of PBL I’m excited and nervous at the same time.  I’ve seen some amazing projects that I would love to implement in my classroom, but it’s out of my comfort zone so I’m worried that I won’t achieve the success I would like.  The article that I read, Authenticiy in Learning: Multimedia Design Projects in the Social Studies for Students with Disabilities presents some great information.  The article discusses how research has shown the “failure of our education institutions to prepare our children for the challenges of life” and that reform is needed to “design learning environments that encourage students’ construction of knowledge and active problem solving”. 

The authors discuss three main reasons why this reform is necessary: 1) many students perform poorly on tests of problem solving, essay writing, reasoning, and experiment design, 2) business leaders are concerned about workers’ reading, writing, speaking, learning and adapting skills, and assessing and generating arguments and explanations, and 3) rapid technological change will require workers to adapt existing skills and learn new ones to optimize performance.  They emphasize the importance of using “authentic problems” that involve “the application of skills and knowledge to genuine problems that people must tackle in adapting to the requirements of life”.  One of the key features of PBL is giving the students the opportunity to “develop habits of mind that characterize independent learners”, which is a critical skill for success.  The article further discusses how students who have the chance to be involved in meaningful investigation of interesting problems and communicating findings to others have increased engagement and their interest in learning in general is enhanced.  The cooperative/collaborative nature of PBL gives all students a chance to be successful.

After reading the article I feel challenged to implement PBL to help reach all of my students.  I have taught many classes with diverse groups of students, from special education to ELL, to low-income, and each group of students has it’s own unique characteristics and challenges.  Teaching in an inclusive environment is difficult at times, but I know I could serve my students better by implementing the strategies presented in the article and utilizing PBL.  With the move to Common Core my schools’ curriculum and teaching practices have already started to change and adapt, but I need to incorporate more authentic problems with tangible products to engage my students.  I’m not set on one project yet, but I am leaning toward either a Geometry or Algebra based project.  I really like the projectile motion type projects as well as the graphical projects I’ve seen, so I may try to do something along one of those lines.  I am also considering something about budgeting and buying/renting a house or car and looking at wages to give students a glimpse of what’s to come financially after school.

Reference:

Ferretti, R., & Okolo, C. (1996). Authenticity in learning: multimedia design projects in the social students for students with disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities,  29(5), 450-460.    

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