The CSTP-based goal/driving question I set for myself at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year was, "How can I incorporate more opportunities for my students to demonstrate their level(s) of understanding on a topic using Project-Based Learning (PBL)?"
My initial CSTP goal was set based on data I had obtained on my new 4th grade cohort. The majority of my students were either at grade-level or exceeding grade-level standards at the beginning of the school year, so I wanted to ensure my curriculum would met their needs as well as challenge them. I tried to incorporate as many PBL experiences into math, science, social studies, and language arts as possible given the framework of time. Elements of collaborative learning and inquiry provided my high-performing students with autonomy, choice, and independence. This allowed them to truly demonstrate their level of understanding in unique, meaningful ways. Some students required more guidance and explicit teaching of skills; however, they would still participate in PBL hands-on experiences after small group learning and responded well to these experiences. In the end, I feel that my CSTP goal was met and I received valuable feedback in order to fine-tune application of PBL in the future, with various types of student cohorts.
I feel that my area of strength lies within my belief that students are capable of meeting expectations (both of self and of the teacher) when those expectations are clear and are developmentally appropriate. I teach in a 1:1 classroom; each student has their own computer and uses it on a daily basis for a wide variety of tasks. After explicitly teaching computer literacy and internet safety protocol, I allow my students to use their computers to conduct research, create authentic products that reflect learning, and practice skills. I encouraged my students to use a variety of resources, including their computers, to research their questions which arose from the PBL/inquiry learning experiences. In first teaching them how to use these resources mixed with explicitly stating my expectations, my students felt empowered to use exciting technology and tools. I feel that my strength lies in my ability to faciliate inquisitiveness, responsibility and autonomy within my students based around a PBL framework of curriculum. That being said, I would still like to collect more PBL-inspired lessons, overarching themes, and instances in which my students can collaborate with other classes, grades, schools, etc. to complete a Project-Based Learning experience
Beyond induction, a goal I have for myself is to become a creator of applicable, fun resources and materials and sell them on Teachers Pay Teachers. I am a creative person who enjoys art and design, and I would love to become more adept at creating my own resources based on student and teacher need. My next steps in achieving this goal will be to enroll in a graphic design class as well as interview my fellow educators to get a feel for the type of resources they desire that work well for their students. I'll know I've reached this goal when I'm successfully selling my unique creations to other teachers!
"Ms. Marin is a very knowledgeable professional who goes over and above for her students each and every day. She is eager to learn and to apply her learning with her students."
-Sonya E. Joyner, PhD
Executive Director - Pathways to College K8 Charter School