“Measure seven times, cut once,” was the proverb I was thinking of after the session on planning and coaching. The importance of scrupulous planning, developing a time line, and making every step of PBL meaningful while keeping a clear focus on the goal should never be underestimated by any teacher. Is it challenging and takes time? Yes! Does it often require reading of professional literature? Of course! Will the results be worth such efforts? Absolutely! The pay-off is a true learning experience for students, not just a product-making activity (makes me think of my earlier post Don’t Let Gorillas Live in Mountains).
I appreciate the time given in our session to explore online resources for planning and collaborating on a project. I was very excited to discover how many forms and graphic organizers were already created and avalible to us. However, I felt my goal as a coach would be to adjust/edit some of those forms, sparkle them with some Shiloh Elementary style, “translate” them into the language that most teachers “speak” in the building. So I did. But I found myself changing, editing a form every time I met with a different teacher. The route that teachers would take for a project and the readiness of their classes would drive our professional decisions. It helped me see that all I had to do was to familiarize teachers with the tools and show their effectiveness.
I felt that the past month was the time of true ITS-teacher collaboration experince for me. Event though results of our discussions were not always what I would call a whole project-based learning experience, but the planing piece was in place. Setting expectation with rubrics and sticking to good compelling questions was our start. Building professional trust and strengthening relationships with my teachers were my bonuses .
Here is an example of the rubric for Native Americans Project (4th grade), the product of ITS-Teacher collaboration.