Often when you hear ‘Past,’ in reference to education, it conjures up negative connotations, as in, it has been and gone and now there are new things to move onto to stay ‘current’. Yes, PBL or CBL have been around for years, however there are components of these two pedagogies that I feel are current today, and will be current also ‘tomorrow’, therefore should not to be thrown out with the bath water. The whole notion of students being at the core, constructing knowledge by exploring and answering an authentic question / challenge or problem, through the process of problem solving remains key. Initially that problem may have been personal, or within the school environment, but now because of technology, not only may the problem look different to include global problems, but also the members of the collaborative group to solve these may include people from around the world, versus initially it may have just included classmates. Also through the use of the internet, the ability to access knowledge from a variety of sources, is at the tip of anyone’s fingers . So I believe parts of the framework for both PBL or CBL remain relevant, but new dimensions can be added, as new technologies open up new opportunities.
I agreed with the article, Introduction to Project Based Learning (Buck Institute for Education), when it said students need explicit teaching of specific skills, and PBL or CBL provides the environment for the application of those specific skills. I believe part of those fundamental skills, irrelevant of the topic, include the ability of a student to ask questions, as part of becoming an active listener and team member. Hence, I found a couple of sites which give sentence starters students can use to guide their thinking through the problem solving process. They are, Bloom’s Taxonomy critical question stems and DOK questioning stems, both of which I will use to build up a bank of question guides with my students as we enter PBL.
As I was thinking of ways to scaffold standards based PBL or CBL for my students, I questioned my role, and how I would guide this learning. I found Tom Wujec, TED talk, Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make toast – highlighted for me the importance for students to use visual representation (ie. cards / sticky notes) when defining the components of problems and it also reiterated for me, the power of collaboration when solving one.
Ken Robinson’s TED talk, How to escape education’s death valley, made me think about ways in which to include diversity, ways to enhance curiosity and creativity in my students when planning for the implementation of PBL or CBL. All good things to consider during the planning stage.
So PBL & CBL may be classified ‘past’ but they still hold relevance today.