Saturday, April 11, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites Chp. 12

I get really excited about project-based and problem-based instruction, and I know my students love it even more! When teachers are at institute days one of the things we always say was the best part is when we get to collaborate with other educators. Together we question, brainstorm, and create. I often remember  colleagues ideas more than I remember what the lead speaker presented. I think with our students, it can be the same way. They remember ideas they constructed in learning experiences and remember those of their peers.

In my undergraduate work, I worked in schools based on the Reggio Emilia philosophy. In this approach, students learn through experimentation and discovery based on the interests of the child in a supportive environment. We did project work with our kindergarten students where we observed their free play and noted common interests. We noticed how much they played "police" so we created learning experiences where the students researched and created representations of their learning. A parent was a police officer, so she brought in her car for the students to tour and spoke with the students about her work. We noticed them transfer their learning into their play!

Another one of my favorite project-based experiences was when I taught a summer course for gifted students. The course was for 1st-2nd grade students where they were using math skills to create maps. I gave the students large shirt boxes, sand, and a range of other materials. They created a hidden treasure in their island creation and applied their math/map making skills to make a map that led to their treasure. It helped students be able to associate so much more meaning with learning about angles and degrees as well as the concept of using a map.

In my second grade classroom, we are doing inquiry based learning we call "passion projects." We just did a class passion project to help the students develop the research skills they will need to do their own passion project. We researched our topic (turtles), interviewed a turtle vet, and are now creating a video to teach other classes about what we learned. Next, the students will go through the cycle again with an individual passion. This provides great opportunities for students to apply their reading/writing common core skills they learn throughout the rest of the day and helps them develop as a self-directed learner. This teaches them how to go after what they care about in life at school and at home!

Make sure you link back to First Grader...At Last! to link up to hear about other teacher's ideas!

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