Little Wins That Have Impact

Change. Transform. Innovate. These are words that echo in many school hallways and staff lounges. They are written in countless articles and blog posts, and mentioned in many books, videos and podcast episodes.

In our school, we are not only talking about change, transformation, and innovation, but we have begun the journey to live them out with our students. To help us change the way we see our role as teachers and administrators, to transform teaching and learning, and to develop innovator mindsets, we are preparing to introduce our grade 4 through 6 students to project based learning (PBL). We are on a quest for continuous improvement, pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone, and gaining access to in-depth learning for both students and staff.

Seeing that we didn’t have any experience implementing PBL, it was important for us to do it the right way – from the get-go. So I did the most logical thing I could think of: ask my personal learning network (PLN) on Twitter.

Sure glad I did !

The vast majority of people that responded pointed us to Buck Institute for Education (BIE). What a gold mine for PBL ! Videos, resources, rubrics, support forums (Twitter), access to research on PBL… just what we needed to help guide us through learning how to implement PBL in our school. So off to Amazon’s website I went, and ordered copies of the book Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning, considered by many to be the “Gold Standard of Project Based Learning” (and recommended by BIE).

Our first step is to make sure we understand and agree on WHY we want to implement PBL in our school, WHAT exactly is PBL, and HOW to implement it. Once a week for 60 minutes, our grade 4 to 6 teachers, our resource teacher, and myself meet to discuss the chapters that we read in the book: we ask questions, we comment, we compare, and we plan. If we want our students to experience something positive, new, exciting, and relevant to their lives, then we need to fully understand and commit to the process. So here we are, studying TOGETHER a book on PBL that is research and practice-based, and planning exactly how we will go about it. Talk about impactful professional development.

In addition to a transformation of pedagogy, we are also transforming our learning spaces. In particular, we plan to remodel the old computer lab into an “innovation room”. Here are some pictures of the green screen kit that we ordered and installed for students:

The students were very exited ! At first, I was a little worried about how long it would take them to figure out just how to produce videos using the green screen. Well, to my “not so much a surprise”, it took a couple of our grade 4 and 5 students a total of about 2 hours to produce a video. Just amazing !

In terms of future purchases, this will depend on the needs and interests (projects) of our students: robotics, sewing, electronics, maker space, fixer space, coding, green house, etc. 

Risk taking is often the starting point of a transformation towards improvement. The important thing is to take action. And to do that, you do not have to know everything right away to move forward. Its the little wins that add up and count.

I can’t wait to document our progress!

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