NextGen PBL leaders work with learners to do Project-Based Science integrated with literacy, which means changing the way we teach and build classroom environments. To do that well, we feel that it is vital for teachers to have opportunities with colleagues to learn and practice the curriculum features and activities.
Professional Learning for the ML-PBL curriculum leverages the features of project-based learning. Teachers engage in meaningful driving questions, develop physical artifacts collaboratively, and are motivated to deepen their pedagogical knowledge over the year. The PL immerses teachers in the challenges of figuring out authentic scientific driving questions that advance students learning and knowledge-in-use, and that help build inquiry-driven classroom communities.
By participating in an abridged set of lessons, the teachers are able to experience first-hand how learning unfolds as a supported learner and a teacher. The facilitator guides teachers to make use of each other's experiences in the classroom and demonstrates Project-Based Learning practices. Supported by the facilitator, the teachers undertake one lesson per learning set, for a total of five to six lessons and reflect on their own experience as learners and the design for coherence across the lessons.
In this way, teachers develop equitable discourse moves through engaging in and unpacking meaningful discussions. They work together to explain the skeleton of the units, and how parts of each lesson can inform instruction. Together, we use their stories of success and challenges to break lessons down into usable parts, and build the language and skills for engaging in accurate formative assessment of student learning using Learning Performances, "figuring-out" statements, "look-fors" and evidence statements.
There are two final artifacts of the PL session. One is the physical artifact that the students build to culminate the unit as a summation of their investigations into the driving question; the other is a model of students' developmental progression in three-dimensional learning throughout the unit. With these end goals in mind, teachers are able to reflect and build a sensemaking approach for understanding all of the teacher-facing materials of the ML-PBL curriculum and how to use and interpret both the formative and summative assessments.
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