After much hard work by the students, the picture books were complete. The project deadline was negotiated with the students and all managed to ‘ship’ the product on the due date. I also got them to reflect on their project in the written and verbal form. The feedback I got was that they found the whole process hard work and you should have heard them when I said that I was glad they had ‘struggled’ with it all!
But I was glad and proud of them because not only did they engage with a wider audience than just completing the book for their teacher, they had a REAL audience to write for. I was also proud of the way they laboured through the process of ideation and experimentation and completed a high quality product.
They talked about their frustration with things not being right, or needing to do a page over because they hadn’t considered one element or another. One even talked about being reduced to tears and working on hers every night for two weeks!
To celebrate the completion of the books we held a book launch on the last day of term which involved lots of what my 4 year old would call ‘sometimes’ food and everybody reading each others’ books – what a great way to end the term.
All that is left now is to revisit the primary school audience to share their picture books with and I hope to organise for the primary school kids to pick their favourites and then I’ll award extra prizes for those students.
All in all it was a great foray into project based learning. Reflecting back on the project I think of how excited I was going to this class everyday and seeing what they were creating, PBL has freed me up from being the ‘sage on the stage’ and has allowed the students more freedom to express themselves and to learn some vital skills in creativity, task completion, working with others and self-assessment of progress. I really liked how we were able to structure the ‘teacher talk’ around what they needed to know rather than just filling them up with knowledge and then setting them to the task. Doing things this way makes each thing learnt relevant to what needs to be done. Having said all that, next time I do this project I intend to include a bit more structure in terms of what students need to know as the feedback from students indicated they wanted this. My role as a teacher in PBL is so much more exciting than being the font of all knowledge that teachers are traditionally expected to be – it certainly allowed me to engage 1:1 with students far more often than if I was lecturing the class every lesson.
Part and parcel of this new pedagogy has been the use of round tables to promote collaboration and while the students were a bit thrown by the round tables in the beginning ( creatures of habit) they have adapted to the change really well. The big thing for me next term is to continue to encourage collaboration through what we are learning.