Me as the PBL Facilitator

Do I think it will be difficult for me as a teacher to move from teaching to facilitating during the PBL process?  For me, the answer is not really.  I routinely conduct student-led Socratic discussions where I rarely if ever speak during the discussion.  These are led by students and evolve into literary discussions that students want to have about books.  I act as the facilitator at times to encourage new questions to move on from discussions that have grown stale or to remind students about the rules for proper discussion behavior.  This teaching method will help me to work into the role of PBL facilitator where I don’t provide the information to students; I merely provide guidance.PBL_BIE

Effective facilitation starts with the word facilitate.  This word means to make easier or to bring about.  This word does not mean lecture or do it for the students.  A good facilitator provides the expectations of a project up front.  Offers tools and suggestions for students to complete projects effectively.  A facilitator should also be aware of when project goals or expectations are NOT working for students and provide clarification and support.  Facilitators need to be present at all times to “make things easier” and help “bring about” effective solutions to the project questions and problems.

In the process of working through the project, students will develop skills and competencies they need for college and beyond.  Students will be required to foster effective communication with each other and for the final presentation.  They will work with technology tools that can be used for personal or academic projects in the future providing great transference of project skills and tools.  Most importantly, the project will and should help students to synthesize information and think critically about big ideas and global solutions as well as to react to literary texts.

For me to be an effective facilitator, I need to make sure that I give the students time to work.  I tend to want to discuss things over and over to ensure that everyone understands.  I will need to keep the discussion short at the beginning of each class and allow the groups to work through their project.  I also need to make sure to provide a timeline so that students don’t fall behind on creating their presentations.  I need to remember that I can answer questions throughout the class period to individual groups and offer feedback on their progress without involving the entire class each time.

PBL is new for me as I am a more traditional style teacher.  I didn’t have great personal success with projects as a student, so I tend to shy away from them in my teaching.  I know now that my teachers didn’t employ PBL processes to ensure a successful project.  So, I need to make sure that I keep an open mind and a positive attitude about the project.  Starting with a strong driving question will help me to focus the project efforts and keep the students on track.

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