In January, however, that focus changes and becomes a little bit more selfish; I teach a forensic science elective at South Portland High School during the second semester, so as January begins I think about how my PBL practice in my own classroom will evolve based on my experiences of the past year. I've decided to try to manage resources through an iTunes classroom this year, and I'm also planning to organize the semester based on different branches of science, rather than in a more topical way as I did last year. (Blood, for example, can be categorized in several different branches of science depending on whether you are talking about its type or its spatter.) I've also found a great new resource thanks to a colleague at the high school: The Poisoner's Handbook on PBS--gruesome but definitely high interest.
As luck would have it, just when I settled down to think about this class, I received my January copy of The Science Teacher (NSTA's high school journal) in the mail. What's the focus of the issue? "Project-Based Science." It's full of great articles, some describing specific projects teachers have facilitated, some describing basic features of project-based science. One feature, in particular, caught my eye and was a good reminder for me about the importance of collaboration.
Collaboration is central to the doing of science and is essential to finding solutions
to the most challenging science and engineering questions and problems. Seldom in
science and engineering does a single individual make a major breakthrough.
Diverse and collective expertise, creativity, and ideas from various individuals are
needed to solve complex problems.
I realized, after reading this, that while I had done a good job building out the course based on science branches, I had forgotten to add in places (as I had last year) where the class could focus on collaboration in both a reflective and instructive way. Thanks, NSTA, for reminding me of how crucial it is to help students become strong collaborators!
Krajcik, J. (2015). Project Based Science. The Science Teacher, 82(1), pp. 26.