What is Problem Based Learning (PBL)? Here are some bullet points that will give the teacher a basic idea of this learning strategy:
- PBL can combine the four core curricular content areas into meaningful explorations across the curriculum.
- It is philosophically and pedagogically opposite of “read, repeat, spit back. move on.” PBL is “active, interactive, and collaborative learning.” This method allows the instructor to observe individual cognition which supports learning processes.
- Collaborative learning affords group members the opportunity to learn from each other. Discussion during exploration helps team members to consider other options which encourage “thesis, antithesis, synthesis.”
- It is experiential, inductive and builds on prior knowledge.
- Activities can be adapted in complexity to fit the grade or cognitive age of the participating students.
- PBL is student centered. The strategy creates learning opportunities and outcomes determined by the students, with the teacher acting as a facilitator.
- The context in which learning takes place is content specific: “It serves to teach content by presenting the students with a real-world challenge similar to one they might encounter were they a practitioner of a specific discipline.”
- For more information, please visit the University of California/Irvine at this link: http://www.pbl.uci.edu/whatispbl.html
Activities for schools:
Problem Based Learning (PBL) Program, Grades 3, 4, 5 & 6
This station-based program is available and adjusted to grade level. Teachers choose which activities are most relevant to their needs. Problem Based Learning (PBL) strategies engage the students in forming hypotheses and team work:
- “Archaeology puts the ‘Story’ in History:” Examine and hypothesize the use of archaeological artifacts excavated in Michigan, the United States and Canada.
- “Trackers:” Examine life-sized, three-dimensional tracks (set in a rubber cast) of fur bearing animals common to Michigan. Students use clues for natural adaptation, pictures, and Genus species names.
- “The Haunted Sugar Cabin:” Read authentic folklore from French Canada and write an ending. I will share the ending of the story at the end of the session. The story is interactive using voice and movement.
- “Trade Goods:” Purchase trade goods on a budget and justify the trades. Students share their findings at the end of the session. This gives students the opportunity to evaluate the trades they made and to discuss advantages or disadvantages of their decisions.
- “The Stick and Ring Game:” Students record and chart their successful attempts at swinging a tethered grapevine ring through a stick. This Native American game was used to teach ice fishing. Students create fractions, decimals and/percentages using their results, which are based on groups of “ten” attempts.
- “Pictographs:” Decode a pictograph story using a manual with which I provide.
- “Come to the Dance:” Read and follow the directions to a common, early Michigan community circle dance. The class participates in the circle dance at the end of the session with recorded music from Trois Bouffons (Michael Francis-Fiddle, Genot Picor-guitar, Mark Szabo-bass).
- “Finding Your Way Home:” Memorizing the geographic or natural landmarks in the environment was essential for survival. Native American children played games to develop their memory skills using stones for this purpose. This games requires a partner. Stones are arranged in a sequence. One partner memorizes the order of the stones. After the order of the stones is memorized, the memorizing partner closes his/her eyes. The order of the stones is rearranged. The stones must be placed back in their original order. Partners take turns.
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