Holidays are always a fabulous opportunity to have space to think, reflect and plan. During the break I was able to plan and create a Project Based Learning task for my Year 11 Studio Arts students. We have two classes studying Studio Arts with two teachers, myself being one of them. I guess I started with considering what the driving question would be and what the end would look like. Some critical questions came to mind,
- How would both classes collaborate around the DQ?
- What technology would enable authentic collaboration?
- What milestones need to be completed?
- How will students go?
- What learning will occur?
- What are we assessing?
Coming up with the DQ was relatively simple, we wanted our students to have an authentic experience in developing, curating and designing an exhibition. From this the DQ came out.
How do we collaboratively design and create an exhibition?
I needed to map out the process and consider what students would go through. I came up with this, which was more for me then for them. I wanted to have a little bit of clarity around what the process looks like. I love the fact that a PBL is so organic and totally driven by students. Truly making these tasks student driven learning. I decided to use GAFE for connecting each of the classes learning. I wanted to use something that is intuitive and works on any device and has collaboration at its centre. I created a folder which houses all of the student required documents. Task outline, rubrics, ideas documents, project team documents. I stabled across Buck Institute for Education after doing a little online research about PBL. Little bit about BIE
our highest priority is to help teachers prepare students for successful lives. We do this by showing teachers how to use Project Based Learning in all grade levels and subject areas. As a mission-driven nonprofit organization, BIE creates, gathers, and shares high-quality PBL instructional practices and products and provides highly effective services to teachers, schools, and districts. http://bie.org/
BIE has a wealth of resources and example documents that you can modify to suit your PBL. It is well worth taking a look. This really helped me frame our PBL and make sure the it is hitting the required learning intentions.
This is part of the task sheet that students use to frame their thinking.
Find the full sheet here: PBL task sheet
Your task is to work in groups and across both classes in planning, designing and creating our Yr 11 Art show. The Year 11 Art show will open on the 3 of August at 5:00 pm in the Menzies Gallery Cripps Centre. The show will display work from students studying Art, Studio Arts and Visual Communication Design. The show will be a celebration of the works of Yr 11 students studying Visual Arts and assessed by an authentic audience. The show must capture the attention of your audience and focus on the following:
- Artistic rigour: Exhibition should be of high artistic excellence and integrity;
- Relevance: Exhibition should demonstrate the exploration of issues
- Coherence: Exhibitions must display cohesion through themes, subjects or techniques and materials
- Audience development: Exhibition should meet audience targets by meaningfully engaging with established audiences and creatively attracting new audiences;
- Best-practice: Exhibition should be in-line with industry standards, particularly with regard to the standard of display and interpretation
You will collaborate your thinking and be involved in:
- Be involved in aspects of curatorial work – writing catalogues, wall text, artist profiles
- Be involved in exhibition design in collaboration with our Art technician
- Design all marketing and promotion material
- Select and install students works from Art, Studio Arts and VCD
- Design lighting and space requirement
- Design the look, feel and opening night of the exhibition
- Develop team roles around critical jobs involved in the exhibition
- Use effective collaboration techniques between both classes in developing ideas for the show.
Reflection after week one
Our first lesson centred around working through the ideas behind a PBL and then we moved into deconstructing the task sheet and looking through the rubric for assessment. I have used the rubrics on BIE for the assessment of the PBL and modified them to suit my context. We discussed collectively what the learning would look like to achieve above standard in each of the criterions. After this I let the students go. I have always found the most difficult thing as an educator is to let go of ‘control’. I want students to be the co-constructors of learning, driving and challenging their learning. I want to shift the ownership of learning to them from me. Letting go of the control is hard, scaring and even challenging, but when you do, your students will never disappoint. I was astonished of how quickly they were all engaging with the task, with each other and taking control of their learning in the first lesson.
GAFE was a great choice, it is enhancing both classes ability to communicate and collaborate their learning. We started out with seperate class documents, but the students decided this wasn’t working and have now merged their learning into one document. Effectively making choices of how best they can all collaborate. Over the next few lessons I witnessed true collaboration and self directed learning. Students began making choices of how best to support each other and what roles they would like to focus on. When you hand over learning to students and scaffold the learning intentions students will ultimately take control and be self motivated to discover the gaps in their learning and plug the holes. The engagement has been superb due to the authenticity of the task. Students are learning be doing and deeply engaging with the specific roles involved in exhibition design, curatorial work and installation of art works as well as 21st century competencies of collaboration, communication and critical thinking. What I am realising is the power of a PBL to connect 21st skills to deep learning.
As the week moved on students collaboration deepened around the roles involved in the exhibition and they have started learning from each other about these roles. A testament to the tasks collaborative nature was seeing the students organise a meeting totally initiated by them in their own time to discuss and plan their ideas for the DQ. If that’s not immersion in a task I don’t know what is, giving up their own time to work on an assessment! Part of my thinking was to incorporate a flipped lesson about the Question Formation Technique. I wanted students to be able to develop their knowledge about asking good questions in seeking answers that will move their learning. This is the only part of the task that I have ‘made’ them complete. A student reflection from the QFT task
I didn’t quite understand this task at the beginning but as I started thinking of what the class really needs to know and the things both classes have been tossing up, I started understand the kinds of questions we should ask. Reading over my questions and thinking of the advantages and disadvantages of each, revealed to me how some questions that can seem important, can actually be useless. Completing this task allowed me to realize what questions are the most important and will ensure we receive the most valuable information required for our exhibition. In hindsight, I know now that some questions I have written are less important than others and should be rethought and re-written to ask how and why we should do certain things and therefore receive more valuable answers to help with the creation of the exhibition.
Some of the questions they have came up with
- How can we efficiently present an exhibition that isn’t completely tradition and has quirky, new elements that could attract a larger crowd?
- What is the most effective marketing technique in order to get people to come to see the exhibition?
- How much time is reasonable to allow to plan for a large scale exhibition. What focal points must be prioritised?
- What idiosyncrasies are vital to each role an exhibition?
- Creativity is evidently a crucial aspect of a successful exhibition. How do you recommend balancing innovation and impotent feelings?
- Are there any common problems we should be aware of as we begin to put together an exhibition if so, what are they?
The QFT starts with giving students a question focus, I left this open for students to decide around the Driving Question. The rules for a QFT are
- Ask as many question as you can
- Do not stop to judge, discuss, edit or answer any of the questions
- Write down every question just as it was asked
- Change any statements into questions
- The first part of the process is making the questions. This should take around 4 minutes, don’t worry about the quality, just generate as many as you can around the topic. You have to make sure you list and number each of your questions.
- The next step is identifying which questions are closed and open. You need to highlight each closed or open question by making it with a ‘c’ or ‘o’. Once they have been identified you need to write the advantages and disadvantages of the question. The last stage of this step is to change closed questions to open ones and open ones to closed ones. This should take 5 minutes or so.
- Then you move into the priority stage and set some parameters around your choices. You need to select your priority questions and give a rationale for choosing them. You choose the three most important questions by marking them with an ‘x’, give a reason for the choice and note what number your priority question was on your list. 3 minutes max for this stage.
- The next part is making the questions actionable. Thinking about how you will use the questions to guide your thinking and learning around the question focus. This should take 2 minutes.
- The last step in the process is to write a reflection about the QFT process. What did I learn? How can I use it?
The below example is the full process of the QFT.
What is the most important aspect of an exhibition? Eg. The people there, the atmosphere etc. (C)A – create a focus the whole team can use in order to achieve a great exhibition.
D – May leave us to neglect other important aspects of an exhibition and therefore we may not achieve the best we can.
Rewritten: Which aspects should we be focusing on the most and why? (O)
X – This question will help us achieve the best exhibition we can as it details the most important elements while also explaining how it will help us to develop a great concept.
More information about the QFT process can be found here. http://rightquestion.org/education/
Now we have our roles defined, ideas are continuing about the show and our questions are ready to be put into action. We will be twitting our questions to a Melbourne Gallery Director a photographic artist who is currently setting up an exhibition and will have a Q & A session with a gallery installer. This next week is going to be loads of fun. You can follow the #CGSPBL tag to follow our progress. Next week will see us move into the planning phase of the PBL, I can’t wait to see what the students come up with!