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When an idea become a reality – Integrating Project Based Learning

February 01, 2018
"We teachers of the XXI century understand that our goal is not to transfer knowledge as we used to do in the past, our main goal is to create opportunities for learning..."
Alyona Badyuk Gerasimova, METC alumni 2017

On the Month of July 2017, our Alumni Алена Герасимова (Alyona Badyuk Gerasimova) got in contact with us at METC with the idea of integrating “Project Based Learning” pedagogical model in the region where she work (Vinnytsia region, Ukraine) and through it transform & innovate the pedagogical practice step by step. We agreed to start with a pilot in 1-2 schools.


In this article I (Ariel Cegla, METC) want to share with you the great process through which this idea become a reality in less than 4 months. Thanks to Alyona and to the great staff of Agronomichnenska School for the courage and the hard work that allowed this idea to be integrated into the school reality.


A virtual training – 2 Skype encounters

Our first step was to organize 2 Skype Conferences for the school staff. In our first encounter, the topic of Education & Pedagogy in the 21st century was presented by me (Ariel Cegla, METC Training Developer Officer), and during this encounter we had an enriching dialogue on the topic. In our second encounter, we invited Mrs. Ruthy Keren, the principal of "Ariel Sharon" school in Holon where PBL pedagogical model is integrated holistically in the whole school. During this encounter we had a very interesting and productive dialogue on how the school integrates the PBL model in practice, and the school staff in Ukraine had the opportunity to learn from the practical experience of the principal in leading this unique integration. 


 

After this encounters, some teachers decided with a lot of courage to “jump into the water” with the constant support of Alyona Badyuk Gerasimova and start integrating PBL pedagogical model into their teaching practice. I want to share with you the experience of Galina Nikolaevna, a teacher in Agronomichnenska School, who together with the help of Alona shared with us her unique experience:


First integration of PBL in Agronomichnenska School

After the two skype trainings on the topic, Agronomichnenska secondary school of Vinnytsia region started to implement PBL into reality. Six teachers of the elementary school have decided on three projects that will be carried out during the school year. One of them was Galyna Diakonova.


Galyna Diakonova have chosen "Health of a child – wealth of a family" as the theme for the project of her pupils on class 4-A. This project was developed between 07.09.2017 till 26.10.2017 and tried to answer the need of preserving, strengthen and support the health of children and their families in the school community.


This project try to address many problems or issues related to the topic and it included the following questions for the students: How to maintain health and prevent SMB’s illness? Which factors affect human’s health? What preventive measures should be followed?
The students were divide into 7 groups and each group received a task. Every group start to do a research in a variety of sources like the school library, the library of the Community Center of Agronomichne village, on different Internet resources and by conducting observations, meetings and interviews to members of the community. This group work and the research allowed students to get a wide perspective on the topic, to reflect on it and to get to conclusions based on the knowledge and the facts collected. During this process students were autonomous and at the end they were responsible and even accountable for their own work.


As the end of this process, students did a self-evaluation and each group created a joint product: self-made books. On October 26th 2017, the students presented their work and books to the administration of the school and to the parents reflecting the results of their work, including a set of proposals on how to solve the problem.


Second PBL experience - "Mathematics Around Us"

The theme of the second project "Mathematics around us" was chosen by the teacher and students of 4-A, taking into account the opinion of everyone. All together decided that the question that will lead this project will be “where and how to use knowledge in mathematics?”.


Also in this case, the children divided into 7 groups of three students. Under the leadership of the teacher, they prepared a plan for the groups to work on and build a time line with specific dates. Students started researching in a variety of sources (books in the library, Internet resources, interviewes with parents & math teachers in the school, video presentations and observations and interviews in community spaces). It is important to emphasize the crucial role of the teacher Galina Nikolaevna, as a facilitator, an organizer, a consultant, a mentor and a partner for the project participants.

 

After researching and being part of an interesting process that included critical thinking, creativity and autonomous learning, the children prepare “Lapbooks” as their final product. This “Lapbooks” are books with a very unique design, that contains additional materials on the theory of mathematics and can be used during the lesson and extra-curricular work. 

On December 21, 2017, the students presented their work to parents and teachers of mathematics in the school, and participated in the self-evaluation process of the project. Using their knowledge of mathematics and their own life experience, the students successfully coped with their tasks and get to an interesting conclusion: knowledge of mathematics helps them in everyday life.. In this way, students learned to apply theoretical knowledge in mathematics in their everyday lives and even got motivated to continue studying mathematics.

 

PBL - Conecting education with reality

After presenting this unique initiative, we ask our alumni, Alyona Badyuk Gerasimova to summarize in a couple of words  this educational process she leaded... Here we want to share her personal reflection: 

“One of the main aspects of education is to motivate our children to study, and we teachers of the XXI century understand that our goal is not to transfer knowledge as we used to do in the past: our main goal is to create opportunities for learning…In our visit to “Ariel Sharon” School in Israel, we saw open, energetic, motivated students in learning and every participant of METC was interested with the help of which methods they had got such motivation – the answer was PBL.

Today after implementing PBL in Vinnytsia region, we can say for sure that PBL helps to integrate subjects and requires students to think and act the way professionals do in the fields they are studying…”


Thanks to Alyona, Galina and all the staff at Agronomichnenska School, for having the vision and for making this great idea a very meaningful reality!

Ariel Cegla
Training Development Officer - METC