Challenge Based Learning (CBL) is a student-led, collaborative, problem-solving approach to learning and it roughly works as follows:
1. An essential question is established – in our case we recently used ‘The pressure on coastal environments is increasing’
2. Next the challenge is set. We assigned students different coastal areas and asked them how they would negotiate a balance between the needs of people and the environment
3. The students then work together to produce a list of resources they will need to answer the challenge. They also produce a ‘challenge video’
4. The students work through a process to come up with solutions to the challenge. This involves research. They then produce a ‘solutions’ video. In longer term challenges (ours were a double lesson’s length ie two hours) the students would also test their solutions and amend accordingly
5. During the process the students are also blogging their experiences and commenting on their own and others’ experiences
This is a re-blog post originally posted by Sarah Savage and published with kind permission.
The original post can be found here.
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Before we did our first CBL exercise we were worried that some of our students would use it as an excuse to do sweet FA. It’s important that teachers do not micromanage and leave the organisation and delivery of the task to their students. This hands-off approach is nerve-wracking.
However – we were blown away by our students! Not a single student mucked about and all of them got on board and delivered a solution. The quality and standard of their work was generally very good, but the best part about it, for us and them, was the level of engagement and energy present in the classroom.
We make observations during these types of lessons and notably weaker students asked stronger ones what they needed to do (rather than asking us!). Some students were such excellent team leaders that we sat back and had a brew….
We were also happy about their motivation – all students seemed keen to finish the task and did so.
You can see examples of what our students produced on one of our Padlet sites.
In terms of equipment students used their phones, but we had access to laptops. Apps and software-wise we used iMovie, Seesaw, Padlet, and the normal functions within a smart phone ie video and photo. Students blogged using Seesaw generally, but some wrote straight onto the Padlet site.
We asked our students, nervously, for feedback and here are some of their comments:
“It was fun and different”
“We learnt a lot more than normal” (worrying)
“The lesson flew by – it wasn’t boring”
Other stuff our students said can be seen on another group’s Padlet site, during a different lesson, where they commented on how they found the experience.
In conclusion CBL is a joy. It takes less time to set up than a normal lesson and the students love it. Therefore this is one experiment that we definitely will be repeating.
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