Friday, July 20, 2012

Project Based Learning-Integral Part of Common Core Standards!

With ELLs soon to be fully integrated into mainstream content classes, teachers will be searching for creative productive strategies to engage all students in ways that not only provide access to all for content, but also develop English language skills for ELLs. 

So how is a teacher to meet demanding needs on the part of the students?   Often times, cooperative learning has been one vehicle to do this.  In cooperative learning, small teams of learners work together to complete a task with each child being held accountable for the responsibilities of that role.  For example, the "recorder" would keep a record of all key notes generated by the group in doing their assignment.  For ELLs, this is a non-threatening learning environment.  Teachers facilitate in the instruction to clarify points or concepts as needed.  (For more on cooperative learning, see TOP TEN posts of all time in the blog). 

With common core standards, teachers will be challenging students to do more independently.  Cooperative learning activities can start students off in the instruction cycle, but project based learning inspires students of all ages to do more and enjoy the process along the way.  In PBL teams, students solve problems of interest to them.  Think about second graders working on the pros and cons of the stock market, high school students designing a high school of 2050, some students design their own projects on topics that interest them, etc.

In PBL settings, ELLs would need support with the academic language and project goals.  Word walls or concept maps (for WORD WALLS and CONCEPT MAPS search within this blog for posts on them both) could be designed by students so that anyone who needed a quick review of the concept could just go up to the wall and find the answer needed.  ELLs would also need the academic language structure to talk to their peers.  Academic sentence frames could help (even EOs would benefit from them).  In solving the problem students decide to address, the ELL would be actively involved in sharing his/her thoughts with scaffolding devices such as graphic organizers, sentence starters, visuals, notes, etc.  As with cooperative learning, the teacher would facilitate as needed as well as monitor ELL progress in language. PROJECT BASED LEARNING

PBL will prepare students to enter the 21st century work force.  The global community needs team players to solve world problems.  Our ELLs might even have an advantage here in that they will be proficient in more than one language:)


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