From the beginning this whole process was a bit scary. I have taken a course in UbD and attended additional workshops given by both Wiggins and McTighe. Writing these kinds of projects is not easy. I found the “Reinventing Project-Based Learning” handout to be a big help, especially the section on “Overcoming Pitfalls” beginning on page 60. Some of the most common mistakes were described, and they were all the kinds of things I tend to do. During the planning of the project, I read this article/chapter several times. Making up my mind on the topic/theme/activity to make into the project was the dilemma.
During the morning, while listening to Susie and Jane speak about technology and project based learning, things started to come together in my mind. Their comment, “Don’t let technology lead. Match the tool to the task,” helped to put everything into perspective. Another thing they said, “Make it (student thinking) visible. Provide opportunity for discussion and questioning.” This seemed to fit perfectly with the inquiry process that is infused throughout the science program.
Since our science program is already activity based, I decided to use the next investigation of the “Structures of Life” science unit. Essential Questions are always difficult to word. With Kim’s help and critical eye, I was able to establish those and the Enduring Understandings. Keeping the technology component grade-level appropriate was the next challenge. Since my class has just completed a project in which they recorded their observations of seeds on a voice thread documenting different stages of seed germination, I decided to continue with this mode for students to make their thinking and learning visible.
For this investigation, students will be observing crayfish. As part of this task, they will photograph the crayfish and write in their science notebooks what they observe. Then they will record their observations using their voice thread with the photograph. They can also use the other record sheets and logs. Students will use writing and speaking to show their thinking about their learning. I am excited to see how the project goes.