Getting Connected

Note: This is a co-written post by Ray Swinarchin and I.

The essence of 21st Century Learning and Leadership comes down to the idea of becoming connected and one way of doing this is by developing a Personal Learning Network.  Personal Learning Networks or PLNs allow individuals to connect with others to share, communicate, and request.  By creating a PLN, an individual creates relationships with others who have similar interests.  This relationship leads to sharing of ideas and resources, collaboration and new learning.  Over time, the PLN grows connecting the individual to the global community.  Individuals interact in a variety of ways by using social networks and other online platforms.   Networking allows individuals to connect with leaders in education who can support the individual in their own self directed professional development.

When an individual self directs their professional development it leads to greater exploration or inquiry based learning.  In the past, teachers have had little input as to what PD would best fit their needs.  With a self directed inquiry process in mind, a teacher can now create a PLN and seek out leaders for support and guidance.  An example of this is being done within our own school.  Our administrator has asked for our input as to what direction each individual feels they need to develop.  As the  needs of the individual teachers are examined our administrator has created five  learning teams.  In a traditional setting, our administrator would need to facilitate five groups and bring in a variety of experts.  However, with social networking (i.e. twitter) our administrator could bring in other experts to join in discussions.  These experts would share their knowledge and provide prompts for the group to have dialogues that would leads to a deeper understanding.  As the group of learners continue to dialogue and share information the expert or leader takes on the role of co-learner as all members are contributing to the learning.  As the conversation grows in the network, new experts are drawn into the network leading to greater collaboration.  With a wealth of input, a sharing of resources and rich conversation, the original learning group will become leaders.  These new leaders will be encouraged by their peers of leaders to join other PLNs in order to share their knowledge and expertise.

Here is an an example of our personal learning network.  As we continue to develop and grow in different areas our links with others will grow.  In some instances we will be leaders and in other instances we will be the learner.

mind map PLN

Below is a number of links that describe Personal Learning Networks and tips on how to create a your own network.

http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/creating-a-pln/

http://gettingsmart.com/2012/01/personal-learning-networks-for-educators-10-tips/

http://educationaltechnologyguy.blogspot.ca/p/create-personal-learning-network.html

 

Have you considered your personal learning network?  Who are the people and how do you access them when you have questions?

 

Their is Value in Modeling Fair Use

The Creative Commons was developed as a complement to copyright licenses. It offers authors of published online works (i.e. blog posts, photos, podcasts, video, etc) to freely share their work with others while protecting their work from being used or changed in a manner they don’t wish have happen.

Leaders in the education field (or any field for that matter) need to respect the Creative Commons attributions or fair use statements provided by the author of the online works they are using. When students create work in the classroom, we teach that that work is theirs alone and that they have earned the right to receive recognition for their hard work. As leaders in education, we should support the idea that someone who creates a piece of work deserves credit for that work. We also need to respect that the person may not wish to have their work altered or shared. By modelling fair use of content, leaders encourage others in their organization to do the same and thus in turn, those people will hopefully follow the same logic. It will filter down and as teachers in our system ensure they are respecting fair use statements and Creative Commons attributions; students will learn to do the same. They will also learn that if one day they share a piece of work that they too can be respected for their hard work.

In light of my teaching partner, Ray Swinarchin’s last post regarding our staff survey on fair use and the Creative Commons, it is clear that this is still unfamiliar to many and would thus be difficult to expect teachers to model fair use with their students. If we want our students to learn how to use material that has permission to be freely shared and how to give attribution where needed, our teachers need to learn how to do this so that they can lead by example. Therefore, it is important that our leaders take the time to educate the teachers or people in their group about fair use. Here are a few things leaders can do to support their knowledge and understanding:

  1. Have discussions about what fair use is

  2. Help the group learn about what the Creative Commons is

  3. Post information explaining the four licensing options available through the Creative Commons

  4. Show staff how to search for information that is free to use

  5. Model how to respect fair use statements and Creative Commons by doing so in your own blogs and other places they use information found online

Does your leader or staff know about fair use and the Creative Commons? How can you help support them in educating their team on the issue?

For more on Creative Commons, please visit:

http://creativecommons.org/

https://whiterabbitisme.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-abcs-of-creative-commons/

 

Creative Commons – A Shared Culture

Here are some more thoughts on the Creative Commons. Ray and I put together a survey for our staff. Below, he highlights our findings.

Creative Commons Resources for Teachers

Chantelle and I did a quick survey of teachers at my school this past week to find out how some teachers were using technology in their classrooms.  Many of the teachers responded by saying that they use technology to share images and content from the internet.  We then asked about creative commons.  I prepared myself with an information sheet for those who had never heard of creative commons.  Before we began the survey we were also curious to find out what each staff member knew about creative commons and where they learned about it.  We predicted that some of the younger tech savvy staff and our administrator would have been familiar with creative commons.  The results our survey were that the only people aware of creative commons were my teaching partner, Chantelle Davies and myself.

The challenge Chantelle and I now face is how do we model and educate staff on the use of creative commons.  We have begun to educate staff by sharing an informational resource sheet that explains what creative commons is and how it works.  We can further model fair use in our school by teaching our students about fair use with the expectation that they ensure they are using content from the internet as the creator intended.   As children become familiar with the expectation they will transfer this skill to other classes in the school.  To make students successful with fair use, a list of sites needs to be create and shared with all staff members.  Sharing resources will continue to make teachers aware of fair use causing them to reflect on their teaching practices.   Reflections about creative commons will lead to inquiry which could lead the teacher to create a Personal Learning Network.

What is one thing you could do to start the movement on discussions about creative commons within your school community?

The Biggest Obstacles In Our Lives Are The Barriers Our Mind Creates

Here is another great post that my teaching partner, Ray Swinarchin has put together as a result of our discussions on the challenges of implementing 21st Century teaching and learning tools.

 

As my teaching partner, Chantelle Davies and I have begun to implement technology into our classrooms we have reflected on some of barriers that we have had to overcome.  Some of these barriers include time, expertise, access, and resources. As I explored other blogs such as The Digital Library these barriers seemed to be fairly common.

Time: Integrating technology into the classroom is time consuming.  There is a great deal of research and planning required by teachers before they can introduce technology into the classroom if it is to be an effective learning tool.  Then next step is to find time in class to teach students how to use technology effectively.  Teachers need to cover a great deal of curriculum and as a result spending time on technology may take a backseat.

Access and Resources:  For a variety of reasons schools may have limited access to technology.  In cases where schools have computer labs access is limited to availability.  In other cases, schools and teachers may have limited access because of lack of funding.  It is difficult to integrate technology on a regular basis if resources are not available.  I find that this is the case in our school.  Many teachers do not consider integrating technology into the class because it is difficult to co-ordinate access to resources.

Expertise:  For a teacher to use technology in the classroom they must be comfortable using it.  If this comfort level is missing then the teacher may be overwhelmed and use teaching practices that they are more comfortable with such as pen and paper activities.  Even when a teacher is comfortable using technology it is challenging to develop ways to incorporate it into the classroom.

There are a number of ways to overcome the  challenges of time, access and resources, and expertise (The Digital Library – Overcoming Obstacles); however the most challenging obstacle is personal attitude.  Many teachers find it difficult to change their teaching practice and therefore resist accepting new ways.  The resistance may be because of lack of information about how and what to change, personal attitudes towards technology, and the feeling of isolation.

Using media and networking helps everyone overcome barriers.  Using Personal Learning Networks, is a great way to begin to remove barriers.  PLNs allow teachers to take control of their own professional development through sharing, communicating, and collaborating with others who have similar interests.  By getting together and networking online teachers can have discussions and begin to problem solve with a great number of individuals.  By engaging in conversations and sharing ideas the teacher becomes more knowledgeable.  As knowledge is gained, barriers are removed and leaders are created.

How might collaboration on a social network help you overcome your barriers for integrating technology into your classroom?

 

Leading by Example: Leaders Who are Connected

Currently, in our school board (HWDSB) there doesn’t appear to be any obligation for leaders to use social networking. However, more and more of our principals, instructional coaches, consultants, and superintendents are beginning to make greater use of social networking tools.

I don’t believe that leaders need to be completely transparent on everything they do. I think some decisions or thoughts are better kept between the leader and other people involved. For example, if a principal is working with a few staff members to make decisions regarding the class placement of some more challenging students, it may be counter productive to have this conversation over twitter where the school’s entire community may feel the need to weigh in on the decision. On the other hand, I do think it’s great when leaders take to tools like twitter to enrich staff discussions around topics such as higher order thinking and inquiry based learning. Using blogs to share information with staff, parents and the general community they are leading is also a great way to keep others informed in a timely manner; while setting an example that encourages teachers and other staff to do the same in their work settings. It’s important to lead by example.

Here are few of the leaders in our board making significant attempts to make social networking tools a regular part of their practice:

John Malloy: Our Director of Education is a regular user of twitter, (@malloy_john) with about 2000 followers since he joined the social networking site in 2011. He often retweets great ideas from educators in our board and he also frequently tweets inspiring or thought provoking statements. Malloy also maintains a blog with posts for anyone connected to our school board, both staff and the greater community: All Students Learning

Thomas Ro: Thomas is a former consultant for the 21st Century Fluency department of our board and now is a vice-princpal. Thomas is a perfect example of “lead by example.” Thomas is an avid user of twitter (@MrT_Ro) , both as a means to share great educational information, as well as be available to answer questions in relation to technology. Thomas also runs his own professional blog, sharing much of his knowledge in the area of 21st Century fluencies: Roflections

Mrs. Anderson: Also know as Principal Anderson on twitter, @JanetLeeHWDSB. Anderson is the principal of one of our primary schools and uses twitter as a tool to communicate with the students and parents of her school community about school events such as the Terry Fox run and expectations such as gentle reminders that they are a nut free school.

These leaders, along with many others in our board are setting an example for our teachers and parents about the changing world of education. They are also proving that they are available and open to discussions and questions with their community of followers.

Do you think it should be an expectation that all educational leaders be avid users of social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogging?

 

Leading the way with Twitter

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Click Photo for Source

There are many ways to be a leader in a school. You may be a principal, a consultant, a team or division leader, or simply (like me…hopefully) a leader in helping your staff to learn something new or work through a problem together. Regardless of the extent of your leadership role, twitter is a tool that can be a great resource for staying connected with your staff. In the school system, we often work in isolation and it is challenging to collaborate or plan times where everyone can come together. With traditional methods, leaders must find a way to pull everyone together. Using twitter keeps the doors of communication open 24/7. It encourages staff to all be contributors to the conversation and provides you (the leader) with a way sharing ideas in a format that doesn’t require a boring staff meeting when everyone justs wants to go home. In addition, traditionally the leader does most of the sharing and the other participants listen and ask questions when prompted. I have included a link here by Elana Lioni from Edutopia on 8 Tips to Create a Twitter-Driven School Culture. I love number seven: Conduct a Twitter Chat. What a great way to find out what staff want to know more about; and in addition, encourage them to learn from each other. With a twitter chat, leaders can ask prompting questions that allow all members to reflect and share their knowledge. It also allows the opportunity to bring other experts into your conversation without requiring them to drive into your meeting as would be required in a traditional sharing setting.

Would the leader in your school be willing to consider using twitter to start a conversation at your school? How might you help encourage staff members to support this new and innovative initiative?

 

 

Social Networking and Leadership

Once again, my teaching partner Ray Swinarchin and I are looking at ways of integrating technology with education. At the moment we are exploring leadership in technology and using technology as a leader. Here, Ray shares a guest post to get us thinking about this:

Leaders in education should use and model social networking tools in order to improve teaching practice.

Teacher leaders in IT need to learn how to use these social networking tools and think of creative ways of how to apply them to real world learning in order to engage students.  The best way to learn about social networking tools is to learn the pros and cons of the tool and to experiment with it.  One way a leader can experiment with social networking is to create a Personal Learning Network or PLN.  The creation of the PLN allows teachers to create, collaborate and communicate.  By doing this a teacher not only shares information but can also receive feedback and ideas from others.  By engaging in conversations in social networks the teacher is exposed to many new ideas which can lead to a change in teaching practice.  Social networks allows teachers to create relationships through dialogue, by being supportive of each other and the sharing of ideas and resources.  As the teacher uses their PLN, they naturally reach out to others and invite them in to join in on conversations.  The process will create new learners and leaders.

This year my teaching partner, Chantelle Davies and I have had a few teachers begin to ask questions about blogging and how use it in the classroom.  By using this networking tool in our classes and by sharing our experience and knowledge we have begun to model how to use social networking.

We would be interested to know if you have how you have used social networking to improve your teaching practice?

 

Why Blogging is So Valuable in the Elementary Classroom

Since I began taking my first Information and Technology In The Classroom course (last year) and began learning more and more about 21st Century tools, I have become so passionate about exploring the idea of classroom blogging. My teaching partner, Ray Swinarchin has also become interested in blogging as a way to engage his students.  Although we know we have much to learn about it and have to work on making it more exciting and interactive for our students, we have come to believe in the benefits of class blogging through reading many other classroom blogs and by learning from many other teachers experiences.

Before discussing the benefits, we would like to talk about some of the challenges that some teachers face and offer some ways in which we have planned to overcome these challenges.  The first challenge is in regards to student safety.  Many people have fears that by posting on blogs we will expose children to the general public.  This concern can be addressed by having lessons that address how to be safe online.  Before children are given access to blogs, we will have them read appropriate posts and practice writing blogs.  A second concern sometimes raised, is that students do not know how to write quality comments.  The reason this often occurs is that students have not been taught how to write these comments.  Teachers often create blogs and expect students to be able to write and respond.  A final concern about classroom blogging is regarding the access children have to using technology.  We are addressing this concern by making technology available to students during class time.  For after hours, children who do not have the use of technology at home can access a computer and the internet at public libraries.  Though there are some challenges with classroom blogging, there are many more benefits to enhance student learning and success:

Supports Reading Skills

Reading other blogs is an important part of the blogging process. By reading posts from other bloggers, students learn about creating interesting and informative blogs. This allows them to make connections and practice reading for authentic purposes.

Helps Students Develop Writing Skills

In our class we will be using blogging to address a variety of writing skills. Writing posts together allows us to look at how to present information to a desired audience. As well, students will be expected to write quality comments that follow a letter format (intro, body, closing). Writing using paragraphs will also become an expectation, which is a part of the grade 4 and 5 language curriculum.

Teaches Students to Build a Positive Digital Footprint and Practice Internet Safety

Most students today are using the internet in some capacity today. They will only continue to access this tool more and more as they get older. It is important to teach students how to be safe on the internet and how to ensure that they are creating a positive image of themselves and their actions online. It is not enough to do this over a few brief lessons; blogging allows consistent regular practice for these important skills.

Encourages Collaboration

Class blogging can allow opportunities for collaboration in many ways. Students can work together to build posts for our readers. Students may work in groups on a collaborative project and this can be shared on our blog for feedback from other students in the class or from global viewers. As well, blogging gives us the opportunity to connect with other classes around the globe and establish relationships. Classes can learn from each other and can have a better understanding of geography, time zones, and social interactions.

Includes Parents in their Children’s Learning

Blogging provides a window into what is happening into our classroom. Parents can see what students are learning about and have regular updates on what is for homework. As well, many parents often wish they could be more involved in their child’s learning. The classroom blog is a great place for parents to leave comments about what we’re learning or ask thought provoking questions about our topics. This gives students a reason to consolidate what they’ve learned and put a response together that shows their understanding of new concepts. As well, parents are able to create guests posts about topics of their choice. Students would love reading about topics our parents know lots about or to hear about some exciting facts from places our parents have traveled to. This encourages our students to ask questions and write quality comments.

Motivates Students

Without a doubt, I know that students love using technology. Students are motivated by the idea of blogging. Many teachers who use blogs report that students show improvements in their reading and writing through blogging. There is also an increase in effort and creativity from students when they know their work is being published for an authentic and immediate audience. Students who tend to be reluctant writers are more willing to write when their work is being published on the class blog.

Students Learn 21st Century Learning Skills

Students today will require a variety of skills when they enter the workforce. Many of them will have jobs that haven’t even been created yet. For this, they will be expected to be confident in using a large variety of 21st Century Learning skills. Blogging teaches students to navigate the internet, how to create digital presentations, how to type, how to work with others in different locations, media literacy skills, reflection skills, and a variety of technology skills.

Mrs. Yollis is a fellow blogger who I am inspired by. She has been blogging with her grade 2’s and 3’s for several years now and has seen many benefits of the process. See what her students have to say about blogging:

Still not convinced, here is a great infographic that the amazing Langwitches shared on her blog:

For any of the challenges that may be faced in the learning process, the skills learned through blogging are invaluable!

 

References:

Miss. Azzapardi’s Class. “Why We Blog.” Five White’s Class blog. Accessed 08.04.14

Yollis, Linda. “Rewards of Teaching Young Children to Blog.” SmartBlog on Education. Posted 08.08.12. Accessed 08.04.14

Morris, Kathleen. “Flattening Classroom Walls With Blogging and Global Collaboration.” The Edublogger. Posted 07.02.12. Accessed 08.04.14

Miss. Jordan’s Class. “Why we Blog in 4KM and 4KJ.” 4KJ @ Leopold Primary School. Accessed 08.04.14

Yollis, Linda. “Why Have a Class Blog.” Educational-Blogging. Accessed 08.04.14

Mrs.Yollis’ Class. “What We’ve Learned from Blogging.” Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog. Posted 05.08.09. Accessed 08.04.14

Sinha, Rini. “Blogging in Classroom: Steps and Benefits.” EdtechReview. Posted 05.16.13. Accessed 08.04.14

Tolisano, Silvia. “Implementing Blogging in the Classroom.” Langwitches. Posted 10.08.12. Accessed 08.04.14

Davis, Anna. “Rationale for Educational Blogging.” Edublog Insights. Posted 01.17.07. Accessed 08.04.14

Holland, Beth.”Introducing Social Media to Elementary Students.” Edutopia.  Posted 06.18.14.  Accessed 08.04.14

Morris, Kathleen.  “The Benefits of Educational Blogging.”  Primary Tech.  Posted 03.08.13.  Accessed 08.04.14.

Utecht, Jeff.  “Blogs Are Not The Enemy.”  Tech and Learning.  Posted 04.20.06.  Accessed 08.04.14.

Reflecting on how technology has aided collaboration

My teaching partner, Ray Swinarchin has put together a reflection on our behalf that looks at how technology has aided in student collaboration and in how we as teacher’s can now deliver content. Ray and I have also looked through the grade 5 Ontario Curriculum in the language, science, and social science strands to see where references can be made to technology. You can view our findings from the link toward the end of Ray’s post.

Reflection

As my teaching partner, Chantelle Davies and I explored the grade 5 Science and Technology, Social Studies and Language Arts curriculum, we looked for explicit and implicit examples that referenced technology and 21st Century learning pedagogies.  As we looked over the three subjects that we are responsible for this upcoming year, we found that there were very few explicit examples.  We found many implicit examples of how we could use 21st Century learning to enhance student success and engagement.  For teachers, the curriculum is what is to be taught but it is up to each teacher and their own pedagogies on how to deliver the content.

How we teach and how students learn should prepare them for the world and workforce they are preparing to enter and therefore we should be thinking about incorporating 21st Century technologies into the classroom.  The workforce today is using 21st Century technology in ways that were not possible a few years ago.  To engage students, technology must be used in order to create authentic real world tasks.  Students are using and learning about technology at the same time as some teachers are learning.  In some cases, it can be argued that the students are more than capable of teaching peers and the teacher on how to use some 21st Century technology and tools.  For teachers to use technology to it’s full potential requires more than just access to 21st Century technology in the classroom.  It takes purposeful planning in order to integrate 21st Century technology to create students ready for the 21st Century workforce.

Today’s workforce is using technology to collaborate and create.  In order for students to gain these skills there needs to be a purpose for using the technology in the classroom which takes deliberate planning by the teacher.  When the use of technology has a purpose the students gain knowledge, deepen their understanding of content, and create new work.  All real world skills.  For students to gain these skills there needs to be collaboration between peers and teachers.  When this process occurs, students gain further knowledge and understanding.  When a teacher integrates technology into the daily routine, collaboration also becomes part of the daily routine.  With collaboration students gain different perspectives from a wider range of thinkers.  As Chantelle and I have stated, we would like to expand our the sharing and collaboration beyond our classes so that we can gain insight from other classes doing similar work.  Collaboration and the benefits of collaboration do not occur if technology is not used with purpose.  For example, students who are only allowed to use technology during centre time usually work independently to enhance a skill.  No creativity, sharing, or collaboration occurs at this time.  There is some knowledge gained, but it does not create critical thinkers who can create new work.

To create critical thinkers; the way content is delivered must change in order to engage students.  Many students struggle to get true meaning from books.  Today with the internet, children are able to access the latest information, find photos and videos to help them gain new knowledge.  An example of this changing way, is the way we plan to explore the science strand of Forces Acting on Structures and Mechanisms.  Specific expectation 1.1 asks student to analyse the effects of forces from natural phenomena on the natural and built environments.  We plan to have students observe video that shows the effects and then let students make their observations based on the video.  When we considered the social  studies curriculum we found that it would be easy to use technology to gather and share information in expectations such as B2.2 gather and organize a variety of information and data that present various perspectives about Canadian social and/or environmental issues.  To see how technology fits in with Social Studies expectations follow the link to  3 Great Assistive Technology Tools.  Although, the example in 3 Great Assistive Technology Tools pertains to the grade 4 social studies curriculum, a similar task using the Idea Sketch app and Read and Write for Google could be designed for this grade 5 expectation about environmental issues. Finally, when we consider the Language document, there are numerous ways to deliver, create and share content.  One way Chantelle and I plan to do this in the upcoming year is to use our recorders of learning.  In this examples, students are creating the content that highlights key learning for their peers. Their peers in turn will offer feedback, allowing for increased collaboration even when tasks were done independently.

By delivering content in ways like this, learning becomes authentic and engaging. It is real to the students and they gain more understanding by actually seeing and doing.  The internet has allowed teachers to take students out into the world whether it is through videos or virtual tours. It has allowed collaboration and sharing of knowledge to occur.  With purposeful planning, access to the internet can be an engaging way to deliver content.

Follow the link to see the examples that we thought referenced technology in the Grade 5 Curriculum.

Inquiry/Project/Problem – based learning…what’s the difference?

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Inquiry based learning, project based learning, problem based learning: what is the difference? Many would tell you there is little difference. I found several compelling arguments that would suggest they are the same thing; with a new name. I decided to learn more.

Inquiry Based Learning, although not an entirely new concept, seems to be the latest buzz word that begun floating around our board these last two years. In an overly simplified explanation, it is simply a way of teaching that encourages students to ask questions throughout the entire learning (inquiry) process. Students are encouraged to ask questions that drive research, sharing of information, testing theories, and ultimately lead to further and deeper questions. Question leads to expanded learning. According to Ontario’s Capacity Building Series there are four phases to the inquiry process:

1. Focus - This is when students begin to define the topic they are interested in, framing it into a big question or a prediction. During this stage, teachers act as a support listening to their  questions, discussing ways they can go about their learning, modeling how to build good questions, and beginning to group curriculum expectations that can be addressed through the topic.

2. Share Learning - During this stage students begin to answer their questions and share their findings with their peers and the teacher. Through sharing, questions are refined in order to dig deeper and encourage rich thinking. It is here that teachers can challenge students thinking and guide them to extend their thinking. There is opportunity to assess any curriculum that has been addressed and teachers help students think about ways to show their learning.

3. Explore - Here students find out more information using a variety of sources. They clarify their questions and ask more questions related to their focus. They discuss their findings. Teachers provide tasks that allow students to add new learning to their existing background knowledge, they encourage sharing of information and peer-feedback, and model reflection.

4. Analyze - This fourth stage is about synthesizing the information that students have gathered. Students are comparing, sorting, classifying, and interpreting information to draw conclusions about the questions they asked. At this point teachers are providing opportunities for students to share their findings and allowing time for peer and self assessment. Even in this final stage teachers support students in asking more questions; to begin the inquiry process again.

Moving on, the reading I have done would lead me to believe that Problem Based Learning and Project Based Learning could both operate as a subset of inquiry based learning. John Larmer, from the Buck Institute of Education said in a post he did for Edutopia, that “[problem based learning], along with project-based learning, falls under the general category of inquiry-based learning — which also includes research papers, scientific investigation, Socratic Seminars or other text-based discussions, etc.” Given my recent learning, I would agree with John provided the PBL (either one) is driven by student questions and not by questions that only the teacher has posed.

In trying to defined the difference between project based learning and problem based learning, John Larmer and several others would suggest that they are very similar. Below is a great chart that John provided in his blog post highlighting the subtle differences between the two PBL’s.

Problem based learning appears to be helpful to math teachers. Several blogs I read, sighted that teachers preferred to focus their inquiry on a single subject question. It was easier to get at the concepts they needed to teach. This makes sense to me, given our jam packed curriculum. Teachers can help guide students in creating problems (or provide the problems, if not student inquiry driven) that focus on a strand in math, but perhaps allow them to address several concepts within the strand. That seems like a lot in itself. In the primary grades, it may be easier to work form a project based learning approach where homeroom teachers have the flexibility to work with their students over longer periods of the day. Project such as designing a new addition for the school (something that will be happening at my school this year) would easily lend itself to discussions and discoveries in science (Forces Acting on Structures), Math (Numeracy – How many new students are coming? How many rooms will be needed? How does this affect the timetable?), Language (reading, multiple forms of writing), Social Studies (Which level of government is responsible for funding in school construction? Who decides which schools open/close?), Art (3D design/perspective, colour theory for classroom design), etc. A primary teacher, who spends many more hours with his or her students has the flexibility to take an idea like this and encourage students to explore it further. It also allows the flexibility to ensure that the questions and answers are student driven, lending itself to the once again popular, inquiry based learning model.

My challenge is, how do we as teachers ensure all of our curriculum expectations are covered in a timely manner. If inquiry is a cyclical process, how do we control (and if not control, know it will get done) that all strands and subjects are covered by June?

 

References:

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/pbl-vs-pbl-vs-xbl-john-larmer:

http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic43.htm:

http://www.cii.illinois.edu/InquiryPage/

http://smartblogs.com/education/2013/02/14/should-i-teach-problem-project-or-inquiry-based-learning/

http://inquiryblog.wordpress.com/

http://www.teachinquiry.com/index/Introduction.html

http://bie.org/about/why_pbl

http://www.pbl.uci.edu/whatispbl.html