Friday, February 4, 2011

Using Paideia Strategies for PBL Teamwork

Over the past ten years, I have written several problem based learning units with teachers who have then implemented them with students.    One area that they see students struggling with is learning how to work as a team to solve the problem.  Now that I am back in the classroom, I am seeing this first hand.  It appears that we often assume students know how to work in a team.  What the students actually need is specific instruction and practice in developing teamwork skills. 

I came across a resource that may help with this.  The University of North Carolina is associated with the National Paideia Center.  This center works to improve "the ability of adults and students to think and communicate so that each might become a good citizen of the world, earn a decent livelihood, and lead a good life."  They have training materials as well as teacher resources.  This even includes a K-1 seminar checklist for teaching students how to work through a seminar with other students.

Classrooms or schools using the Paideia, pronounced (py-dee-a), use seminar dialogue to teach both critical and creative thinking.  The seminars are focused on deep understanding of a significant text.  One example given on the website is for The Gettysburg Address.  The purpose of the seminar is to give students a dual purpose of understanding the text but also participating effectively in the discussion.  In the Gettysburg Address instructional plan, students are given participation goals for the seminar.  They then self-assess on the specific participation goals.  After the seminar is complete, the students are given a collaborative tastk to complete related to the topic of the seminar.

While I have some more exploring to do, I think this strategy may have potential in building the creative and critical thinking skills of students.  Check out their website for more materials as well as information teacher training.