EDTECH 542: Final Reflection

The project is submitted for grading! I almost wrote that it was “complete”, but I know it will change. It might be “complete” for this class (I aimed to meet all the requirements), but I know that some aspect of it will change once I implement it in class. That’s one of the main things I learned about PBL, they are always changing. I think with every week’s assignments, I went back to a previous week and changed things.

What do you know understand best about Project Based Learning? What do you understand least?

Throughout this semester, I really get how PBL needs to be authentic. Real skills for the real world will create that intrinsic motivation in the learners. Something that I’m still wrapping my head around is how to accurately grade the group’s culminating product, but also single out individuals for an individual grade (this is something that I discovered as I was self-evaluating my PBL). And as always, standards are super important and should drive everything, but I will still struggle to make sure everything is meeting all the standards. It takes work, but it’s good work.

 What did you expect to learn in this course? What did you actually learn? More, less, and why?

I thought this class was about making better projects! Luckily, it was way more than that. I honestly had no idea about PBL. It’s a process with structure and a lot of planning. So, I learned way more than I expected.

What will you do with what you have learned?

I’m going to use this PBL either this Fall semester (if there is enough time to make this big of a change), or in the Spring semester (that might be more realistic). At our work, we’re always encourage to share new things that we learned. I might do some type of PD on PBL, but I’m not sure how I could do this in a condensed format. Who knows? But that big thing is that I can now create PBL’s for my class! Good luck to everyone in the following semester!

Here is a link to my PBL site: http://ritcheypbl.weebly.com/

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EDTECH 542: Week Nine Reflection

The PBL experience is winding down…or is it? My project is wrapped-up and has been posted for peer review. I still have a few additional tweaks in mind, but for the most part, it’s done! This semester was filled with a lot of learning and some struggles to understand the process, but in the end, everything seemed to come together.

At the beginning of the class, I literally knew nothing about PBL (I’m not even sure I knew what PBL was an acronym for). As the process was introduced to me, the biggest concept I needed to understand was how everything is derived and motivated by standards. I work at a community college. We have standards, and recently we’ve been aligning activates and outcomes to them, but the PBL process is much more reliant on this alignment.

Another important aspect that I worked on continuously was the idea of authenticity. Is the project teaching students essential skills that they will actually use in the field? Do the activates reflect what’s being done in the video production industry? I feel like the more authentic the project, the more intrinsically motivated the students will feel. Part of this motivation comes from the challenging problem/question (driving question). I was nervous about this part because if you fail here, the rest of the project will absolutely suffer. I decided to do something that would not only engage them intellectually, but evoke emotions that are closely tied to intimate video experiences. I also had to adjust the level of reflection in my project to be more than just weekly reflections. It’s important that the class actually talk together about the process after the final projects are completed.

One other aspect that I knew I had to get right was the public product portion of the process. This would not only increase that intrinsic motivation (I’m realizing that the motivation/engagement/sustained inquiry is a huge part of PBL), but also give the students a platform to defend and explain their project – a place where they can show-off and be proud of their work. I’m happy that I learned the PBL process and I feel like it was distilled down to the most essential parts (check out BIE’s checklist). I realize the process is never really over. I plan on implementing this PBL in the next year or so – there will be more tweaks, I’m sure. I look forward to learning along with the students as we implement the project!

Here is a link to my PBL site.


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EDTECH 542: Week Eight Reflection

As we’re getting deeper into our creation of a PBL activity, it’s apparent that the role of the instructor is different than in traditional learning environments. Higher-order thinking and skills are needed by the students in a PBL environment and it’s the teacher’s role to facilitate this open-ended problem solving. PBL teachers should support and provide inspiration, encourage critical thinking, create activities based off students’ understandings, and experiment with methods that are different from traditional lecturing (Berkeley, 2017).

If the teacher generates sustained inquiry (use a good entry event to the PBL), presents students with challenging and authentic problems, and scaffolds the new knowledge, there is a high probability that the students will be motivated to rise to the rigorous standards of a PBL project. Teachers should extensively plan for a PBL activity, but still allow flexibility. Teachers should also provide time for student idea development, revision, reflection, feedback, self-evaluation, and public presentations (Block, 2015). It’s the hope of a PBL teacher that the students will develop the skills to complete the PBL because they want to develop the skills. This will happen if the project is planned well, allows for student choice, and the activates are based off relevant topics.

My standard format for teaching is somewhat dictated by the way classes are structured at my school. We usually have 2 short lectures a week and one long lab. During the lectures, I try to involve the students in my presentation (sometimes with Kahoot, videos, discussions, etc.). During lab-time, the students are given assignments and I help and guide them where needed. In order to conduct a successful PBL, I’ll have to continue the lab format and make my lecture portions more interactive/collaborative. If I follow the timeline in my PBL site, this should allow for just that. I’m looking forward to someday having the opportunity to practice these skills in the classroom.

PBL site – http://ritcheypbl.weebly.com/

Berkeley, M. (2017, June 20). The Role of the Teacher in High-Quality PBL. Retrieved July 23, 2017, from http://www.gettingsmart.com/2017/04/role-teacher-student-centered-learning/

Block, J. (2015, February 26). 5 PBL Best Practices for Redefining the Teacher’s Role. Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/pbl-practices-redefining-teachers-role-josh-block

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EDTECH 542: Week Seven Reflection

This is a reflection on this article on scaffolding in PBL written by Jaime McKenzie.

PBL projects engage students in authentic, complex, and challenging activities, so it’s imperative that instructors have a balanced scaffolding plan in place. Good scaffolding strategies should support the students as they work to understand problems and keep them from losing the “big picture” and objectives of the project. Because PBL often asks especially challenging questions and allows students freedom to explore the questions, instructors need to make sure that the PBL is well structured.

For any activity, the instructor should provide clear instructions and a good reason for the activity. PBL encourages authenticity, so if a student asks, “why in the world are we doing this”, you should have a good answer that connects to something outside the classroom. When you are incorporating assessments into your PBL, it’s a good idea to include rubrics that help with the clarification of directions and expectations. If you’re going to show students examples (which also helps with the clarity in direction), they should be exemplary.

For my PBL, I’m including a diversity of assessments that align with various standards (check out my site link below). For the more complex assessments, I have designed rubrics that detail what’s expected and help scaffold the assignment. For the more complex activates in my PBL (EDpuzzle, Adobe Premiere, building the camera kit), I’ll be showing exemplary examples and modeling a few techniques and skills. My intent is to make sure all my activities are clear and allow the students to exercise creative freedom while meeting objectives. I also feel like scaffolding in my PBL will be dynamic. If certain students are having trouble with an activity, I can adjust things “on-the-fly” to help them out. I’m looking forward to continuing to develop scaffolding strategies for my PBL.

PBL site – http://ritcheypbl.weebly.com/

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EDTECH 542: Week Five & Six Reflection

My assessment PBL page – http://ritcheypbl.weebly.com/assessments.html

This week I focused mainly on the assessment aspects of my PBL project. We’ve been learning about key principles for authentic and meaningful assessments over the past two weeks and integrating that knowledge into our PBL projects. Assessments should have personal relevance to the students as well as allow them to feel ownership over the products. After my students find something they are passionate about in their community, the final projects will be extremely relevant to them because they are creating a documentary about that passion. They will be building the documentary from the ground-up, so they should feel complete ownership of the product. Assessments should also be connected to the work that the students are continually doing. In my PBL, students will be talking weekly about what they’ve learned and how they will apply what they’ve learned in a discussion board. They will also be creating a presentation on various video styles. Both assessments are based on what the students are learning and doing in the PBL. Student assessments should also be public. My students will be presenting reflections, a presentation, concept map, and a final project to their peers. This often motivates the students to create high quality work as well as builds a sense of ownership and pride for the project. Their final project will be viewed by potentially hundreds of people live and thousands of people online. Lastly, good assessments should promote self-reflection and critical inquiry. My weekly discussion posts are essentially reflection opportunities for the students. All my assessments/standards reflect what is required by professionals in the video production field (this will tie into their critical inquiry as they connect their knowledge to the real-world). When guiding the students through this PBL, its essential to communicate to the students that all my assessment criteria is up for revision and challenge. If that happens, the students can discuss their thoughts with me and we can come to a decision about the criteria. I’ll be tweaking my assessment page as the project progresses, so check back for more updates.

Posted in 1.1 Creating, 1.3 Assessing/Evaluating, 2.3 Assessing/Evaluating, 4.4 Assessing/Evaluating, AECT Standard 2 (Content Pedagogy), AECT Standard 4 (Professional Knowledge and Skills), EDTECH 542 Reflections | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

EDTECH 542: Week Four Reflection

This week we were tasked with creating our driving question along with sub questions. So far, this has proven to be the most difficult process in designing my PBL. My first version of the question was, “How can we create videos that make a difference in our community?” To me this sounded great, but after reviewing more material on DQs, I learned that they should avoid learning outcomes. This allows for more open-endedness and exploration of the topic. “Create videos that make a difference” sure sounded like a learning objective, so I refined my question to be, “What makes video such a powerful storytelling medium?” This actually gets to the heart of the class – visual storytelling. A good byproduct of the students learning visual storytelling is going to be their creation of videos for the community.

I also added quite a few sub-questions that are raised once you start thinking about the main driving question. These questions follow a logical (at least to me) path when learning about video production. I started mapping out the flow of the project and each driving questions is directly related to an activity. Below is the complete list of sub-questions, as well as a link to my PBL project site.


Driving Question – What makes video such a powerful storytelling medium?

  1. Why is video a good communication tool?
  2. What types of videos (styles) are out there?
  3. What are some characteristics of good videos?
  4. What stories should/could be told in the community that could benefit from a video?
  5. What are the production phases of a video?
  6. What roles/jobs do people have in a production?
  7. What makes a story good?
  8. How do you begin telling a story?
  9. How can you keep videos authentic?
  10. What makes a good interview?
  11. Does lighting and composition matter?
  12. Is audio that important?
  13. Are there any legal concerns when shooting videos?
  14. How do you put everything together into a complete project?


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EDTECH 542: Week Three Reflection

The PBL project begins. This week, we started to create a website that would feature our PBL project. The site is to be designed so that another teacher could use it to conduct the project. We were given this template to use, but were also given the freedom to use whatever web-site creation tool we desired. I checked out the new Google Sites, but decided to create my site with Weebly (I really like the customization freedom and the aesthetics. We only completed the “Overview” and “Welcome” section of our sites this week, but there will be more development coming soon.

Here is the link to my in progress PBL site.


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EDTECH 542: Week Two Reflection

PBL is starting to make sense (at least the basics). This week we researched some PBL projects and assessed them from a helpful checklist. I found an interesting project on Photojournalism. This project had students documenting a story in their community and gave them the freedom to research the problem/issue/event that they wanted. This project had younger students in mind, but I think it would translate well to any age group.

It was this project that inspired my idea for PBL. I would like to give my students the opportunity to create mini-documentaries on relevant and important stories in our community. One pillar of PBL is that the project addresses an important issue or presents a compelling challenge. A mini-documentary is plenty of a challenge in itself, but I would like to help the students develop a story that is meaningful to their life, families, and community. I currently have students create projects and I can see the benefit in giving them a lot of creative freedom. That’s a mina reason that PBL fits my teaching style. It focuses on relevant products in authentic environments. I hope that the mini-docs that the students create can be used outside of school for organizations or companies.

Another aspect of good PBL projects is student reflection. I was thinking about giving the students a few choices on how they would like to reflection on the production phases (pre-production, production, post-production). One choice could be making behind-the-scenes videos that document the process. This could also be used to share with other classes as a learning tool. I’m looking forward to actually breaking this project down, developing it using BIE’s resources,  and having the chance to use it someday.

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EDTECH 542: Week One Reflection

Week One: The beginnings

I have to admit, on the first day of class, I struggled to give a basic definition of project based learning. After the first week of class, I feel like I have a much better understand of what makes PBL work and some characteristics of good projects. We were introduced to Buck Institute for Education’s website, which contains a wealth of knowledge on PBL and we were asked to participate in a few discussions about what makes PBL work. As I worked through the materials, I began to see that PBL is much more than what I imagined (more than my normal projects in class). PBL first presents an authentic, challenging question/problem to students and asks them to collaborate and solve the problem by creating a public and usable product. This usually happens over a long period (weeks or even a whole semester) and allows students to have choice in their solutions, give feedback to one another, and reflect on their learning via a blog or other medium (Lamer & Mergendoller, 2015).

PBL began looking more complex and interesting than the standard projects I originally perceived it to use. At various sources, I read that PBL doesn’t work well to teach students basic knowledge and skills, but it better suited for students that already have the foundational knowledge and can implement it in new and creative ways. This sounds great, but I need more clarification on when in the students’ learning it is appropriate to introduce PBL. I teach an intro to video production class (where I teach basic and foundational knowledge) and I’m wondering if PBL would be a good fit. I already do plenty of projects in my class – but I’m learning that PLB is a little different than standard projects. Either way, I still hope that throughout the rest of the semester, I can find effective and creative ways to use PBL in my classroom.

Larmer, J., & Mergendoller, J. R. (2015, April 21). Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements. Retrieved June 3, 2017, from http://www.bie.org/blog/gold_standard_pbl_essential_project_design_elements

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The Gamification of Education

For this post, I’ll be commenting and reflecting on the infographic linked below.

This graphic shows a timeline of the progression of video games and education. It starts in 1985 with Carmen Sandiego and wraps up around 2011 with the growing popularity of Minecraft. My gaming history began towards the beginning with The Legend of Zelda. I wasn’t on the Earth yet when the game was released in 1986, but it is one of the earliest games I can remember playing. Its strengths were a sense of discovery and exploration. I can also remember renting out a Playstation in grade school to play educational games. While I can’t remember the games specifically, I do remember thinking that they weren’t as “cool” as the commercial games I would read about in magazines.

There are some well-developed, serious educational games out there (Oregon Trail), but I think that commercial games have excelled at the “fun-factor.” It’s this reason that has led me to use contextual transposition, or applying educational contexts to commercial games, in many of my projects for this class. Games are expensive to make, so it’s in the developer’s best interest to keep the dopamine drip dripping. If we, as educational specialists, can harness that “fun-factor”, but apply some valuable learning experiences to the game, deep and meaningful learning will occur.

The graphics reveals a few elements of games that we can harness for educational value. Progression is a real motivator (we’re using 3D game lab for this course) and watching a progress bar grow helps me stick with the course in ways that traditional motivators simply do not. Discovery is also listed as a potential benefit. This speaks to that feeling in the original Zelda of being the first person to look in that nook, or find something in that cranny. If we can transpose a valuable learning experience onto a game that conveys discovery, students will truly play to learn. There is also a section of the graphic that lists games as authoring platforms. For my final project, I’ll be using Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor as a photo composition tool. The game contains a powerful photo-mode, giving the players some DSLR-like controls. This allows them to discover the world through the “lens” and practice their composition. It’s applications like this that get me excited to use commercial games in the classroom.

Posted in 1.2 Using, 2.1 Creating, 2.2 Using, 4.3 Reflection on Practice, AECT Standard 1 (Content Knowledge), AECT Standard 2 (Content Pedagogy), AECT Standard 4 (Professional Knowledge and Skills), EDTECH 532 Reflection | Tagged , , | Leave a comment