Sara began class by having the students introducing themselves briefly, giving their name, major, why they want to teach, how likely they think it is that they will teach, and some other interesting fact about them. Most students reported that they are very likely to teach, though some are still uncertain as to when they will be in the classroom.
Next, she asked the class how they would define Project-based Instruction, and many students found they had a hard time articulating what exactly is meant by this and how it is distinct from a classroom where the teacher assigns projects. Through some discussion and with help from Sara, the class decided that PBI is when all the content that is to be transmitted for a project or unit is embedded inside a contextualized problem or scenario that students must solve. The class then brainstormed potential pros and cons of teaching with PBI, drawing from their own experience, things they have read or heard about PBI, and some critical thinking. Students felt that some of the positive aspects of PBI might be that it affords creativity for students, students may be more engaged, it brings in real world questions, and that it caters to different learning styles. They brought up concerns about planning time, TAKS performance, and difficulty developing projects as potential disadvantages to PBI. At the end of this discussion, Sara urged them to keep these pros and cons in mind as they do the reading and move through the course in order to see if some of their ideas are confirmed or refuted by the literature.
The class briefly discussed the field experience, and Sara gave some of her impressions about previous semesters and what students have gotten out of the interactions with high school students.
Sara also briefly mentioned the Legacy Cycle project that PBI students will complete at the end of the semester, and directed students to www.edb.utexas.edu/visionawards/petrosino to look at examples of Legacy Cycle projects and get an overview of what they will be asked to do.