A great learning experience in a PBL elementary classroom is dependent on the skillful scaffolding of the teacher. Scaffolding in both the traditional elementary and the PBL elementary classroom are about the process of facilitating for success. However, in the PBL classroom by design, you must allow enough room for the student to have voice and choice so that it is not your project but is one the students have ownership of. It takes just the right amount of assistance. On the one hand, you wouldn’t just give the students a Driving Question and turn them lose. That would most likely only overwhelm the student and produce less than stellar results. However, unlike the traditional classroom where you might find –
In the PBL classroom, you are more likely to find something like this –
You might notice right away how the teacher is between each step and reflection and revision are important components every step of the way. Also, the learning is shared out to the world giving the process authentication.
In the article Scaffolding in PBL by Jamie McKennzie, discusses 8 characteristics of Scaffolding.
These characteristics are outlined as follows;
1.Clear Directions – When scaffolding by giving clear directions, loss of time and misunderstandings are avoided. It is important to consider possible problems that may arise so that you can best prepare.
2.Clarifies Purpose – In PBL, the students are given a Driving Question and the purpose behind the question. This question remains forefront as the students are encouraged to take on and share with an audience. This leads to student buy in and caring about the question at hand.
3.Keeps Students On Task – By breaking the PBL into chunks and having parameters much like the gutter of a bowling alley, students are kept within the demands of the problem but are still left to progress through the project on a time frame. This certainly helps students should they stray to quickly get back on track without losing too much time.
4. Assessment Clarity – Assessments both formal and summative are spelled out, in the beginning, helping students to know exactly what the expectations are.
5. Scaffolding points students to worthy sources – PBL helps students with the inquiry aspect by guiding students to reliable sources. Although this is not a requirement, this scaffold can assure the students are problem-solving not just surfing.
6. Reduces the chance of error or trouble – by predicting possible pitfalls and accommodating for these, PBL can be relatively easy to maneuver. Since not every scenario can always be predetermined, it is important to remain flexible and responsive to needs as the project progresses.
7. Produces Efficiency – the well designed PBL saves time by offering channeled progress.
8. Produces Speed – as students are drawn into the PBL, the solutions often create an effect like a snowball rolling down a hill. The project gets bigger and bigger, and as the ball grows so does the amount of learning,
As I look over these characteristics of PBL, I realize what a great job we did when we designed ours. I believe we have scaffold clearly for the students to find success. We also incorporated a mini project giving the students an idea on a much smaller scale what the process should be. The only part I feel we could have done more was in the collection of data for the variables. Since every sport and resource is read very differently, this part of our project requires a teacher or other adult assistance. We choose not to spell this part out because we wanted to continue to offer choice and detailing all research data possibilities for all the sports choices was prohibitive.