This week I read an article by Jamie McKenzie called Scaffolding in PBL.  I’ve always known that scaffolding any activity or project is important, but when doing something on the size and scope of a PBL project it is absolutely critical.  The project I have been developing on projectile motion and quadratics is designed for a 3 week timeline.  If I do not provide clear guidelines and scaffold the project correctly it would be almost a miracle if my students achieve the results that want in the time I have allowed.  Jamie points out eight characteristics of scaffolding that I found very helpful. According to the article, scaffolding:

  • provides clear directions
  • clarifies purpose
  • keeps students on task
  • offers assessment to clarify expectations
  • reduces uncertainty, surprise and disappointment
  • delivers efficiency
  • creates momentum

All of these characteristics are important, and I am trying to use Guidelines/Rubrics as an important part of scaffolding my project.  As Jamie points out students need to understand why they are doing this work, and by correctly scaffolding a project they’ll know how, what, when, and why.  I haven’t had much experience with PBL before so creating these supports for such a large project has been somewhat difficult for me, but hopefully with some trial and error I’ll have a “Teflon Lesson” as the article describes.

Article: Scaffolding in PBL

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