Nagiha Sahyouni is the head of year 7 teacher at Doonside Technology High School and shares with us her ten tips to plan effective project based learning (PBL) with staff at your school.
1. Gather scope and sequences from all faculties.
2. Find a theme to connect subject areas.
3. Speak to head teachers to get ideas on how their unit fits into the chosen theme and possible projects.
4. Identify non-negotiables to try and ensure quality PBL. For me it was having a driving question to drive the learning and an end product/goal which connects all subject areas or desired outcomes.
5. Ensure meeting time is used effectively. We use meeting time to bring together head teachers and teachers delivering the course to design a project, scope and sequence. We program this to fit with the chosen theme.
6. Alternatively, the head teacher of Year 7 can consult with other head teachers to develop a project that connects 2-3 subjects together. They can then provide teachers with a driving question and worksheets to assist with the delivery program.
7. TIME!!! This is a big one. Give staff time to review all worksheets and provide feedback prior to the delivery of the project. If you are not in a position to do this, audit how you are using your time now by looking at your 2018 calendar or diary. Can you use it more efficiently?
8. Make everything accessible. This includes all projects, worksheets, scope and sequences and programs on a shared drive in order to allow all staff to review documents.
9. Be open to feedback. This is so crucial as it helps increase teacher buy in and ultimately student engagement. Observe other teachers classrooms and invite people to your room to get valuable feedback.
10. Communicate! At all steps of the way; from initial project design to requesting more release time to design projects; communicate to all stakeholders. Technology could be a good way to do this or scheduling a regular coffee catch up!
Late last year Nagiha and her year 7 team planned a PBL unit for term 1 2019. As part of this she led her team through an activity to help them understand what PBL is all about. These teachers ideated activities and projects for the term 1 theme. Then in teams teachers prototyped what their ideal classroom might look like while doing these projects. Teachers really enjoyed the experience to be hands on and gain a deeper understanding of project based learning.
By showing teachers the design process through these activities , Nagiha hopes that they feel more confident using an inquiry approach and design thinking and ‘get staff buy in.’
Check out this post to see some of the projects that Doonside THS ran in 2018: https: //lx.uts.edu.au/inspiringteaching/2018/06/27/finding-sweet-spot-creativity-chocolate-middle-school-doonside-technology-hs/