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Friday, June 8, 2012

PBL's and the King of Multi-tasking

 The "King of Multi-tasking"
There were days in my classroom where it seemed that chaos reigned.  On the good days, acting as the “guide on the side” – I felt like Erich Brenn, the “King of Multitasking”  from the Ed Sullivan Show running around answering questions, getting resources, assessing understanding, etc. My job, like the Brenn's, was to keep everyone humming along.  The end of the year is when many teachers start planning for their “fresh start” next year in the hopes that they can run around a little less. 
Gearing up for Success
It takes a lot of work to transform your classroom into a problem-based learning environment where student groups can work independently.  The work you do upfront can cut down on your need for multi-tasking and help ensure student success. Establishing and providing routines, expectations, rubrics, resources, etc. accessible to all students is a challenge.   Back in the olden days, I had notebooks at every computer station with the materials that students needed.   I had to make physical copies to share with colleagues and for students to take home.  I was thrilled to discover that the free digital version of this notebook could cut out the copy machine step.
I have used always used livebinders to put together resources for my teacher workshops and I know that there are lots of ways to share resources including websites, Edmodo, social bookmarking sites, pinterest, etc.  My recent work with Jennifer Miller and Tom Chambers, educators from Texas, called for more that sharing of website links.  Our challenge was to develop a unit that was relevant, authentic, open-ended, collaborative and problem based centered on the NASA 2014 MMS Mission.  The resulting livebinder (up for top 10 Livebinder!) is a great model of how these binders can be used to organize and present a PBL which includes directions for students and teachers, rubrics, resources, worksheets, links, etc.,  all accessible at home or at school.

We set up our livebinder with familiar tabs making it easy to use for both teachers and students. 
Beyond a series of links, this becomes a true resource binder and a great way to share a complete lesson with colleagues and students.    
Are you using Problem Based Learning in your classroom?  How do you avoid becoming the "King of Multi-tasking?"

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