Today was the first day of the Spring 2011 semester of Project-Based Instruction. Dr. Petrosino began the day by telling students today would cover the background of the class, the syllabus, some basic expectations and the layout for the semester.
The PBI class is intended to be a capstone course that is the culmination of the UTeach experience. In this class, we will assume a basic background in learning theory and technology. Though all students have had a slightly different path through the program, with different instructors, we will assume that everyone is at a point where they are about to student teach and we will leverage the theoretical background and applied experiences.
In this class we will look at many original source materials, including theory behind learning. There is also an intensive practical aspect centered on designing and implementing instruction. That said, Dr. Petrosino is committed to “minimizing the drama” and keeping balance in the class. He takes a common-sense approach to the course, appreciating that students have other courses and commitments, and asks that students treat this course as equal to others. This class will go in cycles, with periods of relatively low work load, and periods of more time commitment.
Dr. Petrosino then gave some information about his background, highlighting his history in the high school classroom in New Jersey, his research background at Vanderbilt as part of the cognition and technology group, his post-doc at Wisconsin and how he came to be part of UTeach and the University of Texas. He mentioned his prominent role in developing the PBI course.
Prudie Cain, the UTeach mentor attached to this course, passed out an availability form to the students that will be used to make assignments for the field experience portion of the course. Students took a few minutes to fill it out, and it raised some questions about scheduling the field experience that will need to be resolved on an individual basis.
Dr. Petrosino then went through the syllabus and encouraged students to take some time to read through it over the next week. He highlighted some particularly important aspects of the syllabus, including:
-The course has this blog, and students should check it to find out what happened in class if they our out.
-Blackboard is used as the primary method of communication and document transmission.
-Work outside the class is assumed to be approximately 7 hours a week. Students should use this time by doing the readings, posting on the discussion board, observing courses, lesson planning, etc.
Dr. Petrosino finished the class by making some statements about the overall nature of the class. He described many of the tasks as “engaging, fun activities that are founded in theory,” and also stressed the importance of the metaphor of “teacher as designer.” As teachers, we work with constraints and affordances, such as students, resources, schools, administration, testing. It is very easy to cede control of your curriculum to someone else, but instead we should try to design within those constraints.