My reflection on GEP2 is very different from what I would have ever imagined before.
The unpredictable current situation has changed everything absolutely. Just as we were about to start the implementation of the project with our students, the Covid-19 problem arose and then everything came to a standby.
The theme of our project is related to the natural environment of Vilanova del Camí, so it is about nature, respect for the environment, and especially to the adventure of learning by discovering.
Precisely this was one of the main objectives: to get students to discover and respect this natural environment close to their town. Therefore in the implementation, it was essential that students do fieldwork in order to analyze the area in situ.
The team of teachers has designed the project using very appealing activities and pedagogical tools so that students be the protagonists of this project and can create it according to their own decisions.
We hope that during the next academic year, when the situation gets back to normal, we will be able to carry out this pending implementation. We want to put into practice everything we have designed in this project and we want that our students can enjoy it.
Unfortunately, this course has not allowed us to put in practice our PBL on "Vilanova's Natural
Habitat: Discover in order to protect" with the students, but we are sure that we will be able to
use and put in in action all that we have done in the GEP2 by the next school year.
For us, it has been a great opportunity and a good learning to design a PBL, working as a team with the members who participate in GEP. It is difficult to find the necessary time to be able to organize it, since a PBL involves a lot of coordination, care and understanding to obtain good results, but it has been possible thanks to the efforts of all.
Working on the idea of PBL makes us leave behind some aspects of traditional education. We have prepared dynamic activities with collaborative groups, promoting the autonomy of the students and willing to obtain diverse final products for each work group and thus, enrich the learning of all our pupils. Little by little, we hope to add, as much as possible, these new tasks and knowledge to our daily work.
One drawback which should be kept in mind is the difficulty of implementing the project because of the large number of students we have per class these days. Certainly, Project-Based Learning needs a smaller number of students than we have or an increase in the number of teachers per class. This fact had been anticipated for the realization of this project, since only one teacher could not work with 28-30 children in a relaxed and, at the same time, controlled way with the different rhythms and a wide variety of activities in the Project.
Finally, I can only wish for the implementation of our PBL during the next academic year.
This year’s topics, resources and guidelines have been really helpful to introduce a quite easy-going and fun topic at first sight, but a really challenging new approach to language and content learning when you go deeper into its methodology.
Probably one of the things that made a big impression on me, not because it was new to me but because it is pure common sense, is the fact that we really should start programming conversely, that is, the first thoughts should be dedicated to what our students want to learn and what the product should be. That means that nothing is left to improvisation.
Besides, all the digital collaborative tools (Canvas, Mindmeister, etc.) we were presented last year have been helpful when facing tasks and presentations to students. We have rediscovered them and fully exploited them in a project context.
As for the making of our own project, we have experienced how decisive it is coordination between the different teachers: it is impossible to face such a challenging planning and implementation work without an organised and structured system of meetings throughout the whole process.
A key factor in the process is to make a deep revision of the tasks devised once the project is finished, as we tend to overplan. Students need time to reflect and find solutions in a relaxed and favourable atmosphere. Tasks should also feature a certain degree of flexibility so they can be changed to students/groups different tempos and speeds. So activities must take into account possible changes during its implementation to adapt learning styles.
As a final reflection, it is obvious that this course has been deeply affected by the COVID-19 health crisis and all its consequences in each and every aspect of life, including education, probably the most important part of teenagers life at this stage of their lives. This meant that it was impossible for us to implement the tasks and activities we had devised as a project. We were quite disappointed as all the hard work has seen no light after all. We would have gained huge experience on this kind of approaches in two different ways: from our experience and hands-on application of the project, and certainly because we would have had precious feedback from our trainers. To us their opinions and advice are very important and help us grow in the knowledge and mastery of project-based learning.