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  • Jonathan Lind

    February 11, 2022 at 3:05 am

    I’ve been working on implementing problem based lessons for most of the time I’ve been teaching in the classroom, and I’m still working on it. Some thoughts:

    1. I struggled with the energy and preparation I need as a teacher to present the task, monitor student work, and consolidate efficiently and meaningfully. This has gotten better with experience, but it’s still a struggle. Peter Liljedahl’s work in Building Thinking Classrooms has recently helped a great deal.

    2. When I started, I thought that every single lesson had to be like this. It wore me out, and it wore my students out, and there was no time for consolidation. We had a lot of fun, but it felt very disorganized. There’s still a place for kids doing problem sets in class, and there are still appropriate times for direct instruction. As mentioned in this discussion, we don’t need to throw everything out; this is just another tool to use. For me, it has become the foundation of my classroom practice, but it took awhile to get there.

    3. When I was first introduced to 3-act tasks in particular, I didn’t totally buy into the structure (especially the beginning with the notice/wonder, the estimation, etc), but was pretty impressed with how it worked in practice. I don’t do it for every lesson, even lessons that are based around one task, but it’s part of the practice in my classroom. To start out, I found a few tasks that were right for my class, and implemented them in a sort of “by the book” way. The results gave me enough confidence in what I was doing to continue, and eventually develop problem based lessons in a way that was manageable for me. Give it a shot if you haven’t already!