Taking work home is not usually a good thing. Sometimes it is inevitable but as a father, I also feel a strong duty to make time for my son. But after PEBL, taking work home meant that I could actually spend some quality time with my son.
My 11 year old son loves to visit new places and to be involved in the activities. Taking my learnings from PEBL classes I have been able to sit and build a lot of interesting things with him. We made Newton discs with a motor and added art by putting the national flag in it. He has made one brush stand in the bathroom by using a shampoo box. He spends hours playing with different materials and I ask questions when he gets stuck. PEBL has added the flavor of 'making' and 'creativity' in both of us and more importantly, our interactions have become joyful and meaningful.
We wanted to test out whether iteration i.e. making multiple drafts of their work would lead to deeper learning.
We conducted an activity called LED art in 4 rounds. We started with 120 students in the first round and asked them to make art using LEDs, and to foster a sense of competition picked a few students to advance to the next round where they got to improve on their first draft or create something new. For every draft they came up with new and innovative ideas and their enthusiasm actually increased with each draft. We thought they could get bored doing the same activity multiple times but their creativity and engagement increased with each draft, much to our surprise. I realized providing a safe space for students to fail and getting them to iterate actually leads to deeper learning.
One of our parents complained that their son is just interested in playing around with electric circuits and never pays attention to his “studies.” I encouraged them to support his interest and sent them home with a Scribble Bot kit and a PEBL student guide. The student came back with a really interesting version of the scribble bot which he presented to the class with deliberate construction to control its movement.
Why didn't I recognize the passion of this student (and other students like him) even though I have taught him for more than 3 years?
A lot of so-called “academically weak” students have excelled in PEBL classes, changing my perception of assessing students.