When considering the role that technology should play in project-based learning, teachers need to be clear about the essential learning functions that tech tools will serve. Rather than building a project around the latest or greatest gadget, teachers are better off starting with the academic content and 21st century skills that they want students to understand and apply. Only then are they are ready to consider tech tools that will enable students to meet those goals. Integrating Technology with PBL
For Course 5 project, I intend to apply the skills and understandings I have acquired through the 4 Coetail courses, and to use technology in an authentic and meaningful way to enhance my students’ learning. My hope is to reach the redefinition level of technology use where “the technology allows for the creation of new tasks, inconceivable without the computer”. My goals for technology integration are:
- Increase student engagement.
- Develop students’ communicative and intercultural skills.
- Foster 21st century dispositions, mainly critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.
- Develop media and information literacy skills
- Develop skills for self-directed and life-long learning.
To this end, I decided to explore project-based learning with my French Intermediate High classes, through 2 units, News Broadcasting and Environmental Challenges. I believe these themes are relevant and can be highly engaging since they address current events and real world problems and challenges. Through the study of these 2 units, students can work collaboratively and engage in an inquiry process, while at the same time developing their French language skills. Throughout these 2 units, while using language authentically to understand and exchange information and ideas, students will engage in valuable activities that involve collaboration, research, problem solving and decision-making. They will work together to complete meaningful tasks, that are complex, multilayered and stimulating.
Project-Based Learning: News Broadcasting Unit
Language students have always done projects in their language classes. These projects are usually done at the end of a unit of study, and the goal is to create a product that will be evaluated as a final summative assessment. These projects are usually prepared at home, with little guidance from the teacher. The product is
usually turned in and is rarely shared with others outside the classroom.
What I am trying to do differently is putting more value on the learning process than on the product itself. Project-based learning is about learning that has a long-term value beyond the walls of the classroom. The work involved in the projects are central to our language curriculum. All the learning is based on driving questions, or essential questions that students raise, and which entail genuine and necessary inquiries, that spark curiosity and lead to more questions to investigate.
Ways to increase the effectiveness of PBL in my classes:
- Establishing clearly defined assessment criteria.
- Reinforcing collaborative skills.
- Giving students more choice and keeping the process open to
possibilities and change
- Modeling inquiry strategies
- Providing time and opportunities to reflect on progress and the process of inquiry
- Giving equal value to the process as well as the product, assessing progress at regular intervals and celebrating small learning successes along the way
- Selecting tech tools purposefully to achieve the desired learning outcomes.
Desired results- Begin with the end in mind
In this unit, students will explore the world of news broadcasting. They will learn how to analyze broadcast news, and will understand the principles of news media production. They will reflect on the purpose of the news media in democratic societies and will investigate ways to detect bias in news. This theme has been chosen by students as a result of many conversations and questions that have been raised recently in the classroom about “fake news” and the reliability of media. I thought the unit comes in an ideal learning moment, since it will allow students to understand how media influence our beliefs about ourselves and others. The ultimate student goal is learn how to approach the media critically.
In addition to language standards, I have included pertinent ISTE Standards for students. Students will use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively to support learning”. They will also use critical thinking to “plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources”.
Evidence of learning
To gain and demonstrate understanding of the learning outcomes, students will engage in project-based learning, where they will work collaboratively to analyze news from different sources and interpret intent and meaning in news broadcasts. They will produce an original news broadcast, by writing original story lines and creating original storyboards. They will make deliberate decisions about what news production techniques to use and explain why. Students will select appropriate digital tools to access up-to-date news, conduct research, surveys and interviews, generate ideas, plan, analyze and organize. They will use advanced video technologies to purposefully refine technical components in order to create impact in the news for specific audiences and purposes. Throughout this process, students will have opportunities to reflect on progress and learning and make adjustments to their work. The final product will be published in the the school Channel of communication and shared with language students and French speakers at the school.
This is our third week exploring the unit. Students have been highly engaged and excited. I will share progress soon…
Standards-focused PBL is a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks- PBL