PBL: What Shifts Do Your Students Have to Make?

A contribution to OSSEMOOC‘s pic-and-post series:

I almost fell off my chair when I read “We Don’t Like Projects” by Shawn Cornally of Iowa BIG. Without a doubt he is writing about my students!

OSSEMOOC Projects Pic

  1. The word “project” is not a happy word. When I say project-based learning, most students grimace as they imagine prescribed PowerPoints.
  2. If a teacher doesn’t plan it, it’s not learning.
  3. If there isn’t a test, it wasn’t real.
  4. Their personal interests cannot inform their learning. Learning is sterile, and the actual usage of the word “learning,” to them, is quite different from what a professional might consider learning.

For my students, learning is definitely something the teacher ‘makes’ you do. The move to inquiry this year was rough. Student push back was hard to take and shook my confidence regularly. I will never forget the day when one student in grade 10 called my course “slack”.

 But we need to persist. Students (and teachers) need to own their learning. And the rewards – what we don’t know about until we own it – are transformative. Here is how one student concludes a course summative essay about what he has learned about creating digital stories:

Writing these stories has helped me get better at writing down my full thoughts. Writing these stories has changed the way my mind works. Writing these stories has changed me as a person.

Learning is the work

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