When I first decided to use my Integrated Math class to work on Project-Based Learning, I knew that that there were going to be perils and pitfalls. I also knew that most of them were going to be mine.
Over the past month of so, my students have been working in groups to develop proposals, blueprints, budgets and presentations for a greenhouse on which the school and community would vote. The winning proposal would be built and filled with flowers, vegetables and herbs, and tended by students.
The presentations were supposed to be completed before Thanksgiving break.
They were not. I let them put the finishing touched on them during the long weekend and they presented today.
My main criticism for them was none of the presentations were of a quality that I would feel comfortable taking to local businesses to ask for donations.
I shoulder a HUGE amount of the responsibility for this. I made many assumptions about student time, ambition, drive and motivation going forward in this project and very few of them were accurate.
Things I should have done:
Organized our guest speaker MUCH earlier in the project (like day 3)
Held regular class meetings to talk about progress and problems
Held regular meetings to discuss expectations
Provided examples of business plans/proposals for them to model
Broken the project into smaller, bite-sized pieces
Do we take what we have, give grades and move on?
I think not. I think I'm going to use this as a growth mindset experience for them and for myself.
Tomorrow, we are starting over. Sort of...
Their assignment tonight was to brainstorm every aspect that would be needed to make this project a reality. Tomorrow, we're going to discuss what needs to be done, how we can achieve it, and break those tasks into smaller pieces.
Small, self-assigned groups will tackle each piece, including 3D modeling, research, design, presentation, budgets, etc.
We will move forward, we will continue to work and we will do so together.
I believe in this project and the students have shown great enthusiasm and interest in it. I will practice what I preach and learn from my failures.
We will try again!