As I close in on the end of the first PBL that I have attempted, I am looking back now to begin the process of reflection and improvement. My first task in this process was to ask small groups of kids what their honest opinion was of the unit. What did you like about it? What did you not like about it? If it is worth keeping, how do I make it better for the next group? Those were some of the initial questions I asked and the students were honest in their answers with me which I appreciated. Then I asked the whole class to write down their honest opinions and they could be anonymous if they wanted (everyone put their name on their sheet by the way).

The vast majority of the students said they enjoyed it because:
1) they had choice in how to do it
2) they had choice in what to do
3) they had choice in who to work with

The students who said they did not like it were very few. Out of 65 students, I only had 4 that said they didn’t like it:
1) it was too hard {good – I want it challenging}
2) the math was complicated {it was – sorry}
3) I just don’t like science were stated {i hope that sentiment changes by the end of the year}

As for improvements:
1) clear up some of the questions – they were too vague (totally agree)
2) give us a model to look at – (I did that on purpose so I wouldn’t get copies of mine back and also so I could see a baseline of what they were capable of)
3) don’t throw in the chance cards – (Ok, so maybe that wasn’t a great idea that I came up with – I was trying to replicate real life in that design parameters often change during the course of a work project).

It’s funny how everything the students said were going to be the same things that I had already wanted to fix myself. The models they came up with range from basic to exemplary, now compared to the grade bands of Practice 2 in the NGSS, currently, the vast majority are sitting in the 3-5 grade band. I believe I have a couple that may have strayed into the 6-8 grade band and do have a few in the K-2 band. The push now begins to get the students to understand that their models aren’t bad. There is a difference between bad and basic. It can look fantastic, glittery, fluffy and cute but do nothing as a model. Or it can look very spartan yet do a fantastic job as a model.

I think my students are starting to understand that science is going to be different this year. We are going to stretch, push, get confused and frustrated, laugh and cry together. But we will do it as a team, not as an individual. We are a team.

How is everyone else doing with their NGSS implementation? I look forward to any comments or whatever below!! Let’s get the conversation ball rolling folks.