Teacher Professional Development

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Teacher and students sit around a table in a library. If you are a teacher already experienced in implementing problem-based learning (PBL) in the classroom, you know how valuable a strategy it is. Students are more engaged in the science material, they see the relevance of the topic within their science studies and lives, and you don’t have to answer the question “Why do we have to learn this?” or listen to “I’ll never use this again in my life.”  Students tackle real-life problems and apply content and critical thinking to find solutions. They learn more content and retain it longer with problem-based learning.

If you have not already used PBL or if you have not used it often, you will find in this section and on the password protected Teacher Pages the necessary resources to guide you through the PBL process and provide you with support for your problem-based learning activities. It is not your standard lecture lesson and at first you may be somewhat uncomfortable with the process. Quickly you will discover that your students are not the only ones more engaged in this educational experience.

Students with laptops sit in a group. The resources in this section will help you implement the PBL modules and also provide you with resource materials for your professional development. The topics cover PBL issues such as a “Checklist” for organizing the activities, “Learning in Teams”, and “Developing Rubrics” for assessing student work. You can reference this information to answer questions you may have about PBL, to use the materials to implement the modules in your classroom, or for a professional development presentation at your school

For example, “Comparing Educational Approaches to Learning” compares different educational strategies by listing characteristic components. This is not meant to say that one strategy is better than another. Each may have its own place in delivering good science instruction. However, if you want to focus on one characteristic more than another, for example, problem-solving, critical thinking skills, or working in teams, this table will help you choose a strategy that incorporates more of your chosen characteristic into student tasks.

It is our hope that this section, along with the module information in Teacher Pages, helps you implement PBL modules and that your students benefit from increased practice of critical thinking and problem-solving skills and  the collaborative atmosphere of problem-based learning.