Much of what I do today is different from what I was comfortable doing over the past 14 years. It definitely combines much of what I have always believed in, but technology plays a huge role where it didn't at all 5 years ago. Students working collaboratively dominates our day, whereas in the past my students often worked together, but with complimentary goals.
Project-Based Learning and Problem-Based Learning has always had a place in my classroom, but I feel that I have taken aspects of excellent PBL units and combined them with ideas from Understanding by Design, 21st Century skills, and the Common Core to make these "Super-Units" that attempt to do it all! Unfortunately, I have no experience doing things this way! It all looks great on paper, and often works out wonderfully, but there is so much room to grow!
Also, what my students are learning has changed. Content no longer drives everything that I do. The process of learning, creating, and doing take center stage these days. The final product is now my vehicle for getting my students to reflect on their learning and synthesize things to create deeper understanding. The product is not just a show and tell or a poster in the hallway, but a representation of the learning process.
But I want more. I want my students to take that final product and improve it somehow. I want them to learn from each others' final products, and steal some great ideas that they can use on theirs. I want students to draw from their abilities and help others reap the benefits. I want to drive my students towards improving their products, instead of being satisfied with the status quo. This is my direction today. How can we improve our final products? Who can help me improve it? How can I transfer the knowledge gained from my peers to future endeavors?
But this whole new way of teaching is scary. I don't exactly know how to make it happen. I have to try things out in the classroom and see how they work. I'm unsure of whether or not my risk-taking will be worthwhile, or if it will make me feel less sure of myself. I guess I just have to take my own advice and take responsible, creative risks if I hope to make an improvement on education in my classroom! I encourage you all to do the same - Good luck!