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How to Build Lessons With a Project Learning Matrix Design
I suggest using diligence and patience to build your OAR. It is the matrix behind project learning and is the rudder to steer student participation, along with your active classroom management skills.
This are taken from your school district curriculum standards. It’s a good idea to post them on the board or location students can refer to them during class.
Teaching students responsibility begins with setting them up for success. I refer to the objective at beginning of class and as we go through the lesson. This supports the student in tying together what we are discovering.
Each lesson will have a minimum of two or three activities. Students have plenty of energy so a variety of work to do in class gives them a chance to use it in a positive way.
Every lesson has two or three situations where a teacher can review student work to understand concept comprehension. Many are informal and you can always use formal (quiz, test, etc.) as a traditional class does.
Besides needing a rubric, other materials can be necessary to complete an activity. For example, here are some typical requirements for more common activities:
– white boards
– erasers, marker
– slides, LCD
– blank paper
– reading material
– note paper
Here is a lesson designed with an OAR using Project Learning Matrix design in my science class:
Students will understand the cell types and their properties.
What are two similarities and two differences between prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells? (Discuss bell work answers and give student work) 5-10 minutes
Activity (Paired Work)
Explain the work: student pairs work on white boards to make Venn diagram of prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells. [5 minutes]
Student work (while students work I walk around and review boards which helps me prepare for remaining work in class ) [10 minutes]
Students post boards around room (on shelf, chalk trays) [2 minutes]
Students take notes on papers using “T” chart of 10 similarities and 10 differences (building analytical skills here and I point that out while they are doing this) [5 minutes]
Randomly call on students to say one similarity or difference that has not been stated yet from comparing the boards. [8 minutes]
Summary (Class Discussion) [10 minutes]
Show a slide of pictures: water, rock, fire, plant, fish, and dog using LCD
Two minute discussion in group to answer:
What type of cells makes which and what is evidence?
Then I randomly call on groups for answers and to question evidence. My purpose is to solidify student understand of cell properties and who/what each type of cell.
Students put materials away [3 minutes]
A Project Learning Matrix Lesson is multidimensional
This lesson design uses reading, writing, listening, speaking, collaboration with peers, analyzing, investigating, and making an educated guess.
A must beginning to class is a “getting down to work” which is why I use bell work. This is a sure fire way to turn on student thinking. The bell work question either reviews class work from the end previous, or is something to determine prior knowledge of a concept we haven’t studied but will begin studying that day. My bell work question is placed on a separate white board in the front of the room and remains there the entire class. That board is situated next to the learning objective(s) for that class.
Something at the end of class to tie everything together is a key strategy. The easiest way for me is using a class discussion to summarize what was discussed. I always call on students randomly. This lesson segment is not a teacher lecture. Instead, it’s lead by the teacher asking questions….
– what is one thing we covered today?
– who can tell me what ______ is in relation (compared) to ___________?
– how would you describe ______ as we use it today in our ________ (culture, food, clothes)?
– explain one reason that ________ is occurring or did occur? What is the evidence?
An even better summary activity…. Ann individual student reflection where students have a few minutes to jot down their thoughts from one or two prompts I give them (write on board).
There are a host of various activities that students can use as projects that foster collaboration.
Make poster Class debate Write a story Teach a portion of lesson
Sampler stations Science lab Paired sharing White boarding
Build model Read with partner Do radio show Make or complete a puzzle
Design brochure Make and do survey Play learning game Use graphic organizer
Whatever the activity is, be sure it’s interesting and challenging to student skills. Have your have rubric done before the lesson so you can preview it with students. Set students up to win….. keep them informed on how to do well and they will do well. Be sure during an activity that you are walking around and interacting with groups and individual students.
Don’t sit at your desk and do teacher work or view your email. When students see you’re interested they’ll work harder.
There are plenty of ways to use formal or informal assessments in this lesson design. As I walk around observing students and groups during activities, it becomes clear who knows the material (concepts) and who doesn’t. I like to use “tickets out the door” to document where students are and help them drill down a bit. Basically, a “ticket out the door” is me handing the students a small piece of paper (not a full or half sheet) and giving them a verbal prompt or two. Then they write their answer on that paper and turn it in as they leave. I’ve used this as an assignment grade….. but not always. Here are some prompt examples I’ve used…..
– what is the same (or different) about ______ and ______
– tell me three things you learned, two things you want more info about, and one question you have
– what did the ________ become _________? What is your evidence for you answer?
– explain in two sentences or more how __________________
– what is a good question for the quiz on Friday that other students should know?
A matrixed lesson educates the whole child. This means that there are academic skills building possibilities, social skill building possibilities, and students are given an opportunity to manage their own time and success.
The academic skill requirements are easy to guide using the objective. The skill possibility building is endless, they arise from students being able to collaborate to accomplish specific tasks. Arranging students in workable groups is always a challenge for me. Sometimes I have them count off and then all the one’s work together and the two’s work together and so forth. I stay away from people picking their own partners because there is too much comfort zone in that. I like students to have some comfort but I like it more when they are pushing their own envelope.
Students who are absent or just don’t contribute to a group can be challenging to any lesson. When students are absent I put them in a new group and they start over on the work, unless it’s an excused absence. I tell them that when we cover the rubric, with the intent no one is absent.
Students who don’t work, their partners complain about them, I have a two step program. The first step is I talk to the accused and tell him/her what group members are saying. I also tell ’em, after letting them explain their side of the story, that if complaints continue then they’ll be working at Table 8.
Tale 8 is reserved for all the students who get bounced from other groups for not working. The key is giving the accused one or two chances to get on track and start working, take some responsibility, before I bounce ’em to table 8.
In summary, matrixed lessons produce amazing results and students have fun while they work hard. Teachers, the brightest red flag is when we do too much lecturing – that kills this type of lesson. Teacher lecture/presentation must be limited to 15-18 minutes each day. The rest of the period must be used in students performing tasks for certain activities defined by a rubric that the class has gone over.
Have fun and when you stick to this lesson structure, student learning will go beyond your expectations.
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