Shyam's Slide Share Presentations


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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Guiding Students to Apply What They Learn 03 - 24

 My school has been encouraging the use of project-based learning (PBL) for many years, but the math department—which I’m part of—was very slow to adopt it. I bought into myths about PBL—that it takes too long, that it’s hard to assess, etc.

I wasn’t opposed to all innovations: I flipped my classroom. I allowed my students to move at their own pace. I was the first in my school to adopt a competency-based approach in my class.

But while my students were mastering individual mathematical skills, they were missing the big picture. My assessments were well aligned to the practice work and the standards, but they rarely asked students to transfer and apply their knowledge. These assessments gave me clear information about a standard on its own but not about my students’ ability to problem-solve and think critically.

Why I Chose PBL

I needed an authentic assessment that would ask students to use their skills outside the context of my class, and it seemed that PBL would help my students transfer their knowledge. And I thought that PBL could challenge my students in a way that I had never challenged them before by requiring creativity, grit, and real problem-solving.

I knew that some of my students were also taking psychology and that statistics has countless applications in that field, so I approached the psychology teacher. We began by comparing our standards to see where we might collaborate. We found that one of the Common Core math standards, “Recognize the purposes of and differences among sample surveys, experiments, and observational studies; explain how randomization relates to each,” was similar to one of the psychology standards.

Next we broke down the standard to come up with a task. The students would need to design both a survey and an observational study that would answer research questions they would design themselves. They would need to explain how they used randomization to select samples.
We also needed to ensure that the task would be authentic. The psychology teacher had a connection at the local elementary school, so we decided that our students would design their research questions around things that could be observed there.
So we had our authentic task: “What would you like to learn about the state of elementary education today? What can you learn about the patterns and behaviors of elementary school students through observation and data analysis?”
Students spent two weeks planning for a day of observations at the elementary school, and they wrote survey questions. They had to gather analyzable data on variables of their own choosing, and then they had to report objective findings.