Project based learning was trialled in Term three at Moreland Primary School to engage students as the result of poor student survey feedback. Fifty students from years 3-6 and four teachers nominated to participate after attending a parent evening information session.
We used Agile Scrum as a means of tracking individual and group progress. Each week, teachers conferenced with students to provide feedback, guidance and support. The transparency of Scrum in an educational setting where students are responsible for motivating everyone in the group to remain accountable was an excellent means of maintaining momentum throughout the term.
The driving question was ‘how does our issue affect us in Moreland and what can we do about it?’ There ended up being thirteen groups ranging from how air pollution affects people in Moreland to overfishing and the use of palm oil in products from apps to iBooks.
Each student constructed their own website which included work on the projects such as letters to ‘outside experts’ and presentation plans. Also on the website was a blog where students reflected on how they felt they were collaborating as a group, problems arising with the direction of the project or even creative ideas for the final presentation. Frequent teacher moderation and feedback built a strong connection within the group that flourished throughout the term.
Our PBL trial was carefully planned with the first two weeks focusing on collaboration and critical thinking. We regularly assessed area of learning to target student workshops which were facilitated by staff.
Five weeks were dedicated to project research. This included mini lessons based on group needs, for example, measuring area to calculate the construction of a frog pond as well as scale drawings. If we knew of a parent with a particular area of expertise, they were invited in to work alongside students who gained much experience from that quality time.
Rather than assessing traditional key learning areas, students self assessed themselves based on their perceived ability to communicate, create, collaborate and think critically.
Our final week of PBL contained a much built up exhibition night featuring all thirteen projects and 1:1 teacher/student assessment of the experience the following day. I found leading PBL to be an extremely rewarding and mentally draining experience and, like most of our students, I would definitely do it again!