Today, I am going to tell you something about our school’s PBL (phenomenon based learning) project. The basic idea is that the whole school is celebrating Finland’s 100th birthday. Junior high school is arranging the independence day party from the acts to technical details. We, the elementary school, and the parents are the guests.
Our role as elementary side of this PBL project is to have our own Phenomenon Fair. Main topic of the fair is Finland as a 100-year-old nation. Fourth graders’ very own subtopic to the main topic is the Baltic Sea. Within that context, the students are now working on their own fair stands, acts or presentations. Within the Baltic Sea context, the topics are ranging from battles of the Baltic Sea to seaweed and everything in between.
I have always been very fond of PBL and before I knew it existed I was doing similar stuff with my classes without knowing it was PBL. We approached our project following this sort of a to-do list.
- Motivating and getting the spark to start our project. At this stage, we watched some videos, pictures, discussed, draw and wrote about the Baltic Sea.
- Brainstorming for ideas. We first sneezed out all of our ideas from the topic to an Anwergarden.ch wall. Then the students picked up a topic that interested them the most.
- Setting goals. We set our common goal, which was to get a stand/presentation ready in time for the fair. After that, the students set goals for themselves. The goals they set were, for example, working well with others, learning some new tech, developing in finding information and to add to that all these different topic related goals.
- Show what you know. We did sprint writing assignments to find out, what students already knew about their subject. After that, we assessed if their information is viable and if can it be used in the project.
- Asking questions. Next, students wrote some questions they want to know from the topic. In this phase the quantity of the questions is more important than the quality.
- Picking up the research questions. From the pool of questions students pick or construct their main research questions that will guide them through the process.
- Searching for information. In this phase, we first gathered all the sources of information we could use. Then students started to find information about their topic guided by their research questions. This is the phase in which we are right now.
I will tell you the rest of the phases when the project is completed and hopefully I have some awesome stories to tell and pictures to show from the Phenomenon Fair! Let me just tell you that the stuff the students are working on is golden! Miniatures of submarines, seaweed tastings, quizzes, games, posters and videos. The fair will be in the beginning of December. After the fair I will review this post and tell you the rest.
OK? Until next time!
Author: Tomi Tolonen