EdTech 542 – Final Reflection

Michelle Hughes’s PBL Website: https://sites.google.com/u.boisestate.edu/michellehughespbl/welcome

In the beginning, I was not sure what Project-Based Learning was. My understanding was very limited. I only knew what I had read on Pinterest or through various Edutopia articles. Now, I feel that I have working knowledge of PBL and its purpose. PBL achieves something greater in the classroom than most learning/teaching methods. It teaches skills that teachers otherwise struggle to teach, and it produces products that demonstrate student knowledge on a professional, purpose-driven scale.

Honestly, I had no idea what I would learn or do in this course. It was a part of my certificate, so I registered for it; however, I greatly enjoyed producing my project website and planning the final product. In particular, I enjoyed creating something that I can use in my current classroom. I have the had the pleasure of creating something practical in only a few of my classes, so for that reason, I feel like I did learn something quite valuable to my professional development.

EdTech 542 – Week 9 Reflection

The most important people to include in the debrief after the viewing party are my students. I want to know what they learned and how to make the project better as well how we can expand the project’s purpose and audience. While I’d also like to know the thoughts, ideas, and opinions of my fellow teachers and administers, my students will have the most insight on the process, product, and purpose.

The debrief process will probably be informal. At that point, I’m sure students would be tired of paperwork, forms, and rubrics, so a simple discussion between teacher and students will suffice. I’ve never had a group of students that was not willing to critique something, so I do not fear that there will be silence or a lack of input.

I think the debrief will be just a one-time thing unless I awake in the middle of the night with more questions. Devoting the entire day following the viewing party to debriefing and discussing the possibilities of the project is plenty of time. However, one thing that I could do following the debrief is to have each student write a reflective discussion post or film a reflective vlog entry. Overall though, I do not think extending the process is incredibly beneficial. At that point, we would have worked for several weeks and reflected as a class on how to succeed during each section of the project.

EdTech 542 – Week 8 Reflection

I’m a firm believer that if you want something done right, do it yourself. When it comes to my teaching style, I tend to go overboard on making things clear, accessible, and example-driven. Assuming the role of a facilitator – one that stands back and allows my students to make decisions, may be a little difficult for me because I never want a student to feel defeated or incapable. I will have to change my mindset to become a successful facilitator, and I will have to allow my students to fail a bit more. A successful facilitator empowers students to make their own decisions and to solve problems. He or she works with students to use original and creative thought as the basis of their solutions rather than pre-made or teacher-made suggestions.

If I am able to change my mindset and adapt my teaching methods to empower my students to be more independent, I think students will learn the core competencies of PBL (critical thinking, problem-solving, etc.) and the skills needed to succeed beyond the classroom. Independence is definitely something that I want my students to learn more of, and I feel that I do not always do the best job at requiring it. Therefore, utilizing PBL more in my classroom has the potential to make the skill more of a reality.  


EdTech 542 – Week 7 Reflection

English naturally fits with some other disciplines and clashes with others. As a person that is not naturally gifted with numbers, I don’t know that I would ever be able to competently create an interdisciplinary project between middle school math and English; however, while I was watching the video about designing an interdisciplinary project, I had the idea of how my students could extend our current project by including history, geography, civics, etc.

Since we use two texts that demonstrate social and judicial injustices, we could take our documentaries “on the road.” Creating a road trip map of either current events that demonstrate similar injustices and planning a trip across the country to extend our mission of promoting inclusion and kindness. Additionally, I had a thought of using novels from other parts of the country (or world) to map our “road trip” instead. Just like we use The Outsiders and To Kill a Mockingbird, we can use novels like Port Chicago 50; Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; and several others to study and guide our trip.

EdTech 542 – Week 5 “Effective Assessments”

First and foremost, I think my chosen assessments are effective because they work together to build student knowledge about the central issue we are discussing. A number of my formative assessments relate to stereotypes because I think students can relate on a personal level and are, therefore, encouraged to participate, share their own voices and experiences, as well as listen to others. Also, a few of my formative assessments ask students to create stereotypes (Anatomy of a Greaser ThingLink) which might inspire some reflective thought on how easy it is to judge others. By contrasting the ThingLink assignment with a creative memoir writing activity, students get to move from judger to judged, which I hope will also inspire some reflective and relatable moments that students can contribute to the documentary interviews.

Additionally, I have faith that students can competently and confidently complete each assignment because the format for each is something they have done before. ThingLinks, memoirs, Padlet discussions, video presentations are all assignments that if they have a background in, taking the pressure off the project itself and placing it on the issue. Finally, since I work with middle schoolers, I know that I need to create a hub (Tackk webpage) for all of the assignments that students can go back to every day for information and reassurance, making assignments and expectations public.

As far as including student input in evaluation, I have not had much success with that in the past. Mostly, students think a grading scale should be yes (100) or no (I proposed 0; they proposed “redo”). I am open to new ideas on the matter and am interested to see others’ projects and how they are incorporating it.


EdTech 542 – Week 4 Reflection

Is it still PBL without an authentic audience?

When I think about project-based learning, one of the first things that come to my mind is an authentic audience, context, or issue. This audience, context, or issue acts as a foundation to PBL and is, therefore, a crucial aspect of it. Without one, it’s not PBL; it’s just an extended project.

The element of authenticity allows students to see the purpose and relevance of a project and find greater meaning in completing it. The authentic audience/context is what differentiates PBL from other types of learning and assignments. Having an authentic audience or context is also what makes PBL successful and engaging in the classroom. If students can see an assignment as worthwhile, they are more likely to invest themselves into learning and creating. What else could we want as teachers? 

EdTech 542 – PBL Week 2 Reflection

Initially, I was frustrated in my search because I found so many great project ideas, but the links were dead. Despite not being able to see the actual projects though, I got a pretty good idea of how my interests and curriculum relate to PBL. When I did find projects that I liked though, I had a hard time choosing which one was my favorite. Upon investigation, my favorite project ended up being just that – an extended project. The Odyssey Mosaic Retelling project lacked an authentic context to ground the project in real-world problems or settings. I figured out how to, perhaps, add some authenticity, but the idea of the project still sticks with me as something engaging for students.

I’m the “new kid on the block” at my school. I have never had to hand-score a gradebook or teach without projectors and laptops. My classroom environment is not usually quiet and consists of students talking (sometimes) more than I do. PBL would fit my teaching style; however, I have a “hover” tendency that can get in the way of relinquishing control. All things considered, I think my school and students would love PBL (certainly the end result), but the process might require some “pep talks” on all fronts.

635955657662926587-230315219_rocparentdotcomeAs a 7th-grade middle school teacher, I get the pleasure of teaching some AMAZING classics like The Outsiders and To Kill a Mockingbird. I would love to create some kind of connection between one or both of those novels and my project. I need to do a lot more brainstorming but something about stereotypes or judgment might tie the two together in a meaningful way for my age group.


EdTech 542 – PBL Week 1 Reflection

That was my question this week, and it turns out that it was not completely what I thought it was. Unfortunately, project-based learning (PBL) is something that I have read a little about (mainly on Pinterest) but have not done much research into. However, after a few days of reading and research, I truly think the PBL is something that would work in my 7th grade English class.


Compare/contrast chart for project-based and problem-based learning. This resource informed my discussion response this week.

This week, in particular, I researched the difference between project-based learning and problem-based learning. While there are not huge differences, the differences are stark enough to separate the two. Here’s my discussion of the two. Authenticity seems to be the key dividing factor. Project-based learning builds on real-world tasks/problems, and problem-based learning utilizes a fictitious scenario. That being said, project-based learning would, I think, work better for middle school, because this age student asks “why” about as much as four and five-year-olds. The added relevance would really motivate students to investigate and discuss, inside and outside of the classroom.

In my discussion this week, I also discussed the driving question and its importance to the project as a whole. While I still do not know as much as I would like about crafting a driving question, I think that its precision and detail are crucial to the success of a project. As a project’s catalyst, this question acts as the compass for the entire project, determining its focus, authenticity, and skill development.