Exploding Head #1

This week one of the things I am trying to complete is the Week 2 assignment for PBL Camp. Part of my problem has been trying to nail down where I want my students to be at the end of this project.

  • What do I want them to know about the oil spill?
  • What do I want them to know about their own use of oil?
  • What kind of project or action plan do I want them to have to show what they’ve learned?

So, I have set up a page on the PBL Camp Wiki using the PBL planning form developed by the Buck Institute for Education. We’re supposed to be concentrating on page 1 of this form this week but of course I had to look ahead. The Assessment section bothers me because under Summative Assessments section two of the selections are Multiple Choice/Short Answer Test and Essay Test. Why are those there? Isn’t this Project Based Learning? If it is then shouldn’t the Summative Assessment be the project?

I have heard Chris Lehmann speak both online and in person and one thing that he stresses is that you are not truly teaching with Project Based Learning if your final assessment is a test. The student’s own work should be the most important work in Project Based Learning. If you don’t know who Chris is, check out his presentation at NECC 2009 on School 2.0: Progressive Pedagogy and 21st-Century Tools. This is fairly long and if you want a shorter introduction to Chris, try his TeDxNYED talk.

What do you think?
Should a test be used as a final assessment in a PBL unit? Should a test ever be the final assessment?
Why or why not?

Summer: A Time For Learning

I look forward to the summer – not as a time to get away from all things education related but as a time to regroup and to take some time for my own learning. I hope to help my students become life long learners and what better way to do that but to model a passion for learning myself. Our school has no budget for travel to the many wonderful conferences that are happening all over the country during the summer and sadly, I personally have no budget for this either. I didn’t let a little thing like money stop me, I put together a plan for myself to attend and participate virtually in conferences, classes and whatever else I could find this summer. Here’s what I’ve done or what I am doing or what I plan to do:

  • ISTE 2010 Unplugged & ISTE 2010 Live & Recorded Sessions
    This was an amazing few days of following along on Twitter and Plurk and attending as many virtual sessions as I could. There were so many wonderful ideas and I’m still trying to synthesize it all and figure out what I’m going to actually make a part of what I teach. This will be a subject of a future blog post.

ISTE Unplugged by McTeach

  • Flat Classroom Workshop
    I have long thought of having my 8th grade class participate in the Digiteen Project but have been rather intimidated by it. When I saw a tweet about participating virtually in a Flat Classroom Workshop, I jumped at the chance. This was a whirlwind couple of days but I learned a lot about putting together a project like this and think I’m ready to sign my class up for the Digiteen Project.
  • PBL Camp
    I do projects in the computer lab all the time but I wanted to get more of a handle on true Project Based Learning so I signed up for the camp. This one is on week two and I’ll admit it’s still a bit overwhelming still but I’m hanging in there and hope to start collaborating with another teacher on a project for our classes.
  • 7 Days To a Better EduBlog
    I have not been the best blogger this past year and I’m working on catching up on some blogging about last year’s classes and thought this would be a good thing to do to make sure I do something blogging related at least for 7 days.
  • Plurk Book Study: Drive
    This has just started but I’m looking forward to reading the book and having some discussions with fellow educators.
  • ntcamp 2010
    This is an unconference that will be streamed live and archived. I have heard wonderful things about these types of conferences and hope to be able to catch a session or two live and will visit the archives when it’s done for things I’ve missed because I really don’t plan on being up at 5am on a Saturday in the summer.
  • Reform Symposium 2010
    This is a new online virtual conference that has some amazing presenters. My biggest problem on this one will be making sure that I actually sleep!

And, if it’s possible, I also try to participate in chats and webinars that I think will expand my thinking or help me to be more successful as a teacher. I don’t make all of these but lucky for me (and you) they’re all archived and I can revisit them even if I miss them live!

  • Twitter #edchat
    Sometimes I find it easier to go to the archives for this one because it moves really fast!
  • Classroom 2.0 Live
    There are amazing live events all year long here. I love to attend these live but will often find myself visiting the archives when I need some inspiration.
  • Steve Hargadon Interviews
    Steve interviews some of the most interesting people and all of these get archived too if you miss them.
  • EdTech Talk
    I enjoy the webcasts here all year long and during the summer there are less shows webcasting but I am especially finding ideas and inspiration from the Teachers Teaching Teachers webcasts this summer.

Whew, just looking at this, I think my head is going to explode. Is it too much? Maybe and if I do get overwhelmed, I can always do less but so far I’m finding it invigorating and inspiring!

What are you doing to stretch your brain this summer?

Photo from ctkmcmillan’s photostream