Today’s Contributor: Alexandra Tarpley
I am a first-grade, dual language teacher at Oak Hill Elementary where I have been teaching for 10 years. I have had the great opportunity of teaching kinder, first, and third grade. I find myself most inspired by how quickly students learn to use technology and the products they create.
In the past few years, my passion has been with problem/project-based learning. I have seen how inquisitive children are and they often ask questions, that even as an educated adult, I don’t always have an answer for. Because of this, I love to do PBL with students where they can take ownership of their own learning while I, their teacher, facilitates their learning. At first, I start with something they are passionate about or something they are questioning. I then provide them a brainstorming sheet which we break up into parts to process how researching for PBL works. Then students get to choose their platform of how they want to present their final product. At the beginning of the year, I take time about 4 weeks (30 minutes each day) to introduce a different application or site. Some of my favorite sites include Glogster, Google Slides, Google Pages and SeeSaw. Once I have trained them, I then teach them the steps to get started with PBL. I have them research project, choose their platform and begin their projects. Then they present their final project to the classroom.
I have recently been very intrigued by flipped classrooms. One thing we have recently been doing is having students introduce units with a question posed by a peer, researched and presented by students. Students then work in station rotation, where I am working with a small group in reading or math, while students complete independent and group tasks. One of these tasks would be Blended Spaces, which is a neat way to present all the information.
Project/Problem Based Learning has made my students more engaged and learning relevant. They look forward to their day to present and be “the teacher” for the lesson. It was hard at first to let go of the control, but I realized that if I trained them just right, I was okay with letting go of that control. Especially when I saw the amazing results Blended Learning has on the classroom. No matter limited technology, the economic status of students, academic level or challenges students have, they can all benefit from Blended Learning.