PBL and Student Motivation

Last week I began my launch, or immersion lesson using PBL with The Graveyard Book. The students have been reading this narrative by Neil Gaiman since the beginning of the year. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the book. Some students were sad to see the book’s end, while for others, the end couldn’t have come sooner. I was thrilled to see that despite the various reviews, all students were motivated to hear of the potential to reach out to the author by completing the upcoming project. I could see the wheels begin to turn as students thought about what it would be like to have the author of this book actually read something they have composed. A few students even raised the question of what the likelihood is that Neil Gaiman would actually read something they have sent to him. I answered their inquiries with honesty and was releived to find that students were still very motivated and excited for the project.
I am working with students in a district that has recently given all students, grades 6-12, a chrome book. I have found that the comfort levels with the technology range to a great extent within the room. For instance, some students have worked with Prezi before, while others need help to simply google information. In addition, I have also found that in order to use the technology available, the students and I have to be especially patient because the connection is extremely slow.   Uploading webpages and such can lead to awkward and long pauses in the middle of a lesson, disrupting the flow of information and discussion.

I am learning to think ahead, however, and I’m trying to fill the technology pauses with discussion prompts and partner planning for the work to come.
I can see how merely attaining the chrome books for a one-to-one ratio is a very minimal piece in the preparation work that must occur before pieces of technology can be useful and beneficial to student learning and teaching. I’m curious to see how students handle researching, citing and Prezi in the upcoming lessons. It will all be beneficial, regardless of the prodcuts.  The lessons learned within the lesson are equally treasured. It’s not only the destination, but the process and the learning occurring along the way that hold importance as well.

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