Project 1 – A giant leap of faith

Changing Rights and Freedoms

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

So the first topic we are studying is one of the ‘New Curriculum’ topics, Rights and Freedoms (1945-present). This topic is similar to the previous curriculum topic ‘Changing rights and freedoms’; although it now includes a greater focus on The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UHDR) and the movements creating change in Indigenous Australian rights and civil rights movements in the United States of America. These changes suit me perfectly. My experience teaching Society and Culture and more recently Legal Studies mean I am already knowledgeable in UDHR and protest movements… YAY. Towards the end of term 4, members of my faculty had TPL time to put together a program and resources for the topic. They did a wonderful job so we are ready to go this term. My head teacher prepared a scope and sequence which put some structure around it all. I began to get the project ready…then the holidays came….

Beating procrastination with a little help from a bug

Powerpoint Title page The beach, bush, and geocaching with my family consumed the first four weeks of the break. Then I got bitten by a bug. A long story short, I ended up in emergency surgery and spent the last week at home in bed with a hole in my back. (I’m fine now cheers). This little setback in my holiday fun meant I had the time to get back into the PBL project, amongst other prep.
I began by developing a driving question that would be broad enough to allow students to explore but also simple enough for their first experience of self directed learning. I found this part quite easy and had a question in 15 mins. Driving question The first stumbling block was trying to put my ideas of how to ‘teach’ this project into words. After several stop starts and deleted documents I settled on a simple word document with supporting powerpoints. About an hour after developing the driving question I had a document I was mostly happy with. Project document -first draft The next stumbling block was how to break down the document for students to be interested and engage in. We had already agreed to give edmodo a go so I decided to create some powerpoints to help scaffold the projects and give students some ideas and support.

I developed two powerpoints. The first is a basic summary of the UHDR including links to websites and references such as the Australian Human Rights Commission and the UN. The powerpoint includes some basic tasks that relate to the multimodal texts included. I very much have to be aware that we are teaching a diverse range of ability and interest in this project. I am also part of my schools FoR (Focus on Reading) literacy team which is emphasising the importance of cross curricular comprehension.
The second is more a project support powerpoint. It sets out more clearly what the students are required to do and also gives them some project ideas and suggestions.

Powerpoint pages 1&2

Powerpoint page 3

My experience with the majority of students at my school, particularly yrs 9-10, is that they like to be given the information, preferably in a handout and like to be told exactly what is required to complete a task.
Previously our faculty has run Bloom’s style assessment tasks where students were given several presentation options reflecting different learning domains but students would regularly ask teachers to choose which tasks they should complete. Hopefully through this project we will develop strategies to assist building confidence in students and increasing their ownership of their learning.

I also put a shout out on twitter for a PBL mentor… Got a couple of retweets but that was it… I assume that the week before the return of school for the year was probably not the best time…

Making the magic happen….. Funny but accurate teacher poster

Day 1 Tuesday was a TPL day. It was one of the better ones I’ve been to although I might be slightly biased, having co-presented one of the sessions.
Day 2 was yrs 7,11 &12
Day 3 saw us start the day with year 10. As per usual, it consisted of year meetings to set up expectations, reminder of relevant people and the handout of timetables. We had about 20 mins with our class. We spent the time introducing them to the project, explaining the positives of this great opportunity and explaining the team approach we will be taking with them. Most students responded positively. Unfortunately due to state wide issues with technology we were unable to log into/set up edmodo accounts…. That will be for Monday

Post note

On Saturday morning I opened twitter and was reminded about one of my favourite educhats #satchatoc The topic was PBL and student voice… BOOYAH… So I took the opportunity to share some of the work I’ve prepared. I got some great feed back, wonderful support and a whole lot of great resources to read and look at and PBL legends to follow…
For those educators reading this who don’t do twitter…. START DOING TWITTER. I mostly follow educators and the Professional learning and support is outstanding.


The student voice HSIE – PBL project

2014… Getting jiggy with it…


This year (2014) my school has decided to investigate different ways to improve student engagement.
I am part of the project to trial a PBL focus. My year 10 HSIE class (an academic class) and my Head Teacher’s class (a mixed ability class) will be running a PBL programme along side the regular programme.
We will be trialling different engagement techniques including different learning environments, a more project based approach to delivery and presentation of skills, content and assessment. and a greater focus on ICT.
This is an exciting opportunity and I’m looking forward to working with my HT and the students to develop a PBL programme across the entire stage in HSIE.
Part of our journey will be this blog. I aim to be honest with my posts as it will serve as a valid tool for reflection at the end of the year.
Not only will this project hopefully improve engagement and attitude to learning in HSIE topics but it is a great way to implement a new syllabus (Australian National Curriculum, NSW History syllabus). Personally it may also help me engage with the national teaching standards and AITSL.

So… Who are our guinea pigs?
I have chosen to keep my school’s identity out of it for the moment as it is not really important. It is, however; a unique school environment which I’m sure will eventually be made obvious throughout these posts.
We have chosen a group of 60 year 10 students who have been grouped into two classes, however; for the majority of the classes they will be working in small groups/teams. The students appear very excited to be part of the project and are looking forward to an alternative approach to learning and presenting.

Guinea Pigs

Local community:
My school is in a fairly new area and itself is a comparatively new school. The community is very diverse in terms of socioeconomics. There is a significant proportion of disadvantage, however; there is a large proportion of middleclass and some upper-middleclass families too. The ethnic make up is predominantly Anglo-European. There is an increasing acknowledgement of Aboriginality and enrolment of Aboriginal and Pacifica students.
Large sections of the community commute to the city and can travel up to 5-6 hours a day.
We are lucky to have a university campus in the region.Teamwork

School community:
Proudly a Comprehensive Public School.
The school community reflects the general community. It is a very large school with a staff of more than 120.
The majority of students do not see themselves going straight into tertiary education on completion of school. There is a strong focus on trades and technical qualifications. Many students leave to begin traineeships or fulltime work at the completion of Year 10 or 11.
There is a small group of students who are totally disengaged in the learning process and cause major disruption to both their own and others learning as well as create behaviour management problems for teachers and casual teachers. There is also a group of gifted and talented students both in the academic and sporting fields.
The staff are predominantly new scheme teachers (within their first 7 years) although there are some very experienced and mid career teachers too. They are a passionate staff who go out of their way to create a good learning environment and opportunities and outcomes for their students.
The executive work well as a team. The senior executive has a new leader and a settled and hardworking team of deputies.Bithings-Small beginnings

HSIE Faculty:
My faculty is outstanding. We are a tight team who support each other with the right amount of critical analysis and cheers. During 2012-13, we experimented with combined Geo/Hist units in year 10. These worked well and the faculty shared resources and units to create interesting and engaging lessons and assessment tasks. My HT is outstanding and probably the educator I look up-to the most. She is a patient and experienced leader who has our back. If I ever take the step to HT, it is she who I will aim to emulate and I am looking forward to working, learning and sharing with her more closely.


Yr 10 classes:
The chosen classes were kind of chosen! We decided to use an academic class as they are often more easily able to adapt to change. The mixed ability class just happened to be timetabled on the right line. We looked at the classes and did a few swaps to include students who we though would add to the project. We have included students who are disengaged in the traditional classroom and have displayed behaviour management issues as well as the students who have shown they are able to work independently.


Our plans so far:
– We have timetabled 4 out of the 6 hours a fortnight together in the library. The other two periods will be as individual classes.
– We have had a meeting with most of the students and introduced them to the idea of PBL and the project.
– We have done a short ‘student learning styles’ survey with most of the students.
– We have begun writing the programme for term 1.
– We have brainstormed ideas, activities, site-studies and possible appropriate assessment ideas.

Library learning

I look forward to hearing your ideas and increasing our PBL support crew throughout the year