In my first year of teaching, post NQT year I secured a permanent job in a ‘Pioneer School’ in Wales – schools chosen to trial things for the development of the New Curriculum. I was a Year 6 teacher, and my new year group partner informed me that they often undertook PBL or Project Based Learning. Now bear in mind, this was over 5 years ago, where the curriculum was still pretty much compartmentalised into subjects.
Project Based Learning, is where students work on a project over an extended period of time – could be a week, could be a term. But the most important thing is that students are engaged in solving real-world problems, or investigating a complex question. The idea is that students can demonstrate their knowledge and skills by presenting their findings to an audience. The purpose of this process is for students to develop deep content knowledge as well as the holy grail of skills – creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication! We used the TASC (Thinking Actively in a Social Context) wheel to guide students through the process.
Now I taught KS2 for 8 years, and in that time, I discovered all things G Suite for Education. What an eye opener it was when it came to PBL – and now in these times of remote learning these tools are essential! Let me take you on a whistle stop tour of the G Suite for Education tools I would use when guiding my students through a PBL project….
- Get creative with JAMBOARD! This is the first place my students would collaborate to sketch out all their thoughts and ideas, to get the project rolling.
- Use FORMS to ask questions, survey people, and dig a little deeper into the project.
- Then the analytical and data loving members of the group will enjoy analysing the results using SHEETS and using the Explore tool within it to create a variety of charts and graphs.
- Keep track of individual tasks by using KEEP – share your notes with team members, colour code your notes to track which tasks have been done, which are currently underway, and which tasks haven’t yet been started!
- Create a master plan using DOCS – work collaboratively to create an overview of the project.
- Schedule regular meetings on CALENDAR using HANGOUTS to check in with the team and communicate ideas effectively.
- Present your findings by working together on a SLIDES presentation – remember to embed a variety of media such as sound clips, videos and images. You can also use GIFs for extra jazzy slides.
- Finally share to CLASSROOM and let the teacher see the end results!
Hopefully you can see that G Suite for Education offers a wealth of (free!) tools that not only facilitate PBL, but also encourage and embrace it! Personally, using Chromebooks and G Suite tools transformed my teaching, and also gave me a renewed enthusiasm for creating engaging activities and lessons for my students. G Suite for Education really is the swiss army knife of online learning tools for your students, it’s free, AND you can access it via the Hwb as well – so what are you waiting for?