Project Based Learning Challenge

I have taken a few risks with my Year 9 class because I have taught them since Year 7 and can confidently say that I know all 38 students and their learning capabilities. Other members in my team have changed during those years. I have worked with all the students whether they are at the top of the class or have been learning English for less than 2 years. We have had wonderful aides come in to support my EAL students and they help me tailor the work for students with learning difficulties.

In Term 3 I’m going to try another Project Based Unit with the entire class. In History we will be learning about the Australian explorers, Gold Rush as well Australia’s road to Federation. The students will become the teachers in this unit of work. Last year this group created resources on the Black Death for teachers at my school to use. This worked well with the class and all students were able to create resources that were shared with other teachers. This year I want them to not only create the resources but also to implement them in our classroom. The project is still in planning stages and will be completed by the start of the term.

Rationale: 

My year 9 mainstream students are quite used to work independently in class. Whilst at times, they understand that we need to explain certain concepts to them, they enjoy working together in groups or on their own to complete tasks. They ask for help from each other as well as the teachers when they are unsure of what to do. This allows my teaching team and myself to give struggling students more of a helping hand and individual support. If we identify a concept that they are all struggling, we regroup and explain it to them ensuring that they all understand. On the other hand my transition EAL group comprising of about 12 students rely heavily on teacher support and teacher guided lessons. This means they are often separated from the rest of the class because they need a quieter workspace. However this can mean that they are isolated and their only way of learning is from the teacher. Whilst they do needed more teacher support, I’m hoping that this unit encourages them to learn from their peers as well. I would like my more advanced students to work with my transition group so the barrier between the two can start being removed. The 2 groups sit separately in the class and I’m not happy with that. Whilst I’ve been aware of the situation, I haven’t done much to address it and I feel that it needs to happen now.

How this will work:

Students will be divided into 3 groups, each will be supported by 1 teacher of the team. The students will be in mixed ability groups A topic will be allocated to each group. My aim is that the students will look at a KWL chart ( I might even try the new KWHLAQ chart) to identify what they know about the topic and what they want to know. I’ve also identified key skills according to the curriculum that they need to cover and this will be included in their rubric for assessment of their learning. Students will work together to create a 75 minutes lesson for the rest of the class to teach them about the topic allocated to the group. Students will choose how they present the information to their peers. 

How will this be assessed: 

  1. Self-assessment: students will write a self-reflection as well as complete a rubric indicating how well they feel that they contributed to the task. They will also then identity what skills they need to work on in the following units of work.
  2. Peer assessment: Each group will create a feedback sheet for ‘their class’ to review the information they present
  3. Teacher assessment: Teachers will review student participation, contribution, delivery, presentation skills, group work and content presented.

This unit will run for 5 weeks. It will be a big challenge not only for the students but also for my team members and myself. We will be working closely with our groups and ensuring that all students are able to contribute. It will be more challenging for my EAL students but I’m hoping that they too will be able to help with planning the lesson as well as running it. I would like them to become more confident in trying to complete simple tasks on their own and I’m hoping that this unit of work will give them the opportunity to do so. This is the last year I will probably teach this class and my aim is to help each student develop skills that will allow them to become independent learners.

#YourEduStory: “Describe a time where you as an educator took a risk in your classroom, and it totally paid off. Or, completely backfired.”