This year, being my second running a PBL/Inquiry version of our Modern World History class, I am hoping to do more to leverage the freedom the course gives me to help students tailor the work to their own needs. I gave plenty of choice last year in terms of content, but I was not doing as much to help students personalize the work in terms of skills. This year, I am not only asking students to reflect on how they are doing in terms of skills such as analysis, research, etc. but I am also asking students to choose skills they want to target for improvement.
At the end of the third project, I asked students to do a self-evaluation, really more of a check-in, on the skills being developed in the course. Each student made a copy of this Individual Learning document and answered the prompts. Over Winter Break, I looked through them as I contemplated the next unit, Atlantic Revolutions.
I decided that students would do individual projects that would be designed to work on the skills they identified for improvement. I gave them a document that contained several essential questions. They need to select a Revolution to begin with, an essential question to address, and a skill to target. In my planning, I sought out help from experts in the building to serve as consultants/mentors/guides. I brought in the learning specialist to work with students on time management. Our librarian held a workshop on research. I asked each student to attend one of the two workshops, whatever their chosen skill to target. I want each student to have the experience of hearing an expert voice and realizing that many people have much to teach them. Research and time management are critical initial aspects of any history project.
Now we are at the point where students are getting down to work. I am going to create a tailored rubric for each student depending on their individual focus, although there are some elements that all students will need to fulfill, such as providing evidence that answers the essential question. We are in the early stages but students are talking about a variety of products, from journals, to presentations, infographs, and essays. One student is interested in creating a board game.
My challenge is working productively with each student to further their learning in ways they have targeted, while allowing them to find their path without me prescribing it too much. Come to think of it, that’s always the challenge.