This week was all about discussing project-based learning and the use of rubrics.
The keyword I selected for my reflections this week was: learner-centered. The world of teaching and learning has gone through a lot of trends and I have perceived that one of the main concerns has been to focus on the student rather than the teacher. Never has the learner gained so much attention like these days and project-based learning in a way is taking the spolight from the teacher to the student. According to the texts for this week and the discussions from teachers and their personal experience has consolidated the idea that projects are extremely motivating and meaningful if used properly. Students have a chance to use language learned for a real purpose rather than an artificially created one. Projects, moreover, engage learners in a whole different level and promote more interaction among then because they have to work together and make decisions together. In a way, students seem to have more control as to what direction they take their learning.
Another thing that in my opinion is giving students a greater share in their learning process is the use of rubrics. Rubrics are an alternative to change a grade that sometimes can be perceived as something too abstract to an assessment that is more concrete and understandable for the student. Rubrics also guide students to the elements that are being grade in whatever task they are working on and it clearly shows them what is expected from that task and once the work is graded they can reflect about it and use the rubric to work in areas that need improvement. Rubistar has proved to be an interesting and useful tool for teachers who want to find alternative ways of assessing students`works. It is adaptable to different realities and teachers can add other elements to the rubric so that it is customized for their groups. Also, a nice point expressed in the material and discussion is that students can interefere in the grading process by participating in the making of the rubric and by letting them grade themselves. That is not applicable to all groups but is a nice alternative in some cases.
Another great discovery this week was in relation to WEBQUESTS. As mentioned before in Nicenet, I thought it had to do with searching the web for information. I guess I was absolutely wrong because it had to do with web projects and tasks related to a theme. I was amazed to check the links Robert had suggested and I liked very much some of the lessons I clicked on. I can totally see myself using it in the future with some of my groups.
In usm, this week`s discussions have openend my mind to the importance the student has gained in class and how we can make lessons more interesting by involving them in the whole process. Students can learn a lot more by being actively engaged rather than passively engaged.