Project-Based Learning (PBL)is an approach that creates a "constructivist" learning environment in which students construct their own knowledge. The students work in groups to solve challenging problems that are authentic, curriculum-based, and often interdisciplinary. In Susan Gaer's article entitled "Less Teaching and More Learning", she mentioned that using PBL approach has helped motivate her Lao, Hmong Mien, and Lahu immigrant students to learn English for a purpose, which is to recite their folktales to 8th graders of a different school. It also promotes community among the class members which fosters the motivation needed to see their project to completion. Since the story-telling project gives meaning to their English learning normally goes on in the classroom, the project can create excitement and motivation not existing in a traditional, text-only class.
The last week's article by Chao-chih Liao "E-mailing to Improve EFL Learners' Reading and Writing Abilities: Taiwan Experience" gives me an idea of doing the same thing for my Structure II students. I can contact my friend who is an English course manager to build a project for his foreign students learning English in Perth, Australia and my students in Indonesia. The students can exchange emails on certain topics, for example: telling what their hometowns look like. Based on the information they get from their key pals, the students can write articles or brochures about their key pals' hometowns. I believe that this project will enlarge the students' cultural awareness and improve their motivation to learn English in more meaningful ways. Another thing is asking my students to create their blogs and type the tasks required by the teacher and makes reflections upon what they've learned that week. This idea has appeared since I joined this online course.
One definition of independent learning or 'autonomy' in learning is:
"...the ability to take charge of one's learning" H. Holec, 1981
Independent learning is usually developed throughout a learner's time at school
or college to give learners more responsibility for work or learning. It helps
learners to make informed choices and to take responsibility for deciding what they need to do in order to learn. (Source: http://tlp.excellencegateway.org.uk/tlp/xcurricula/el/assets/documents/independent_O.pdf)
PBL as described above promotes independent learning in the sense that it provides students with an opportunity to create products in relation to what they are learning/have learned in the classroom. The rubric for the task can also provide extended information about what the students are capable of in addition to formal tests conducted in the classroom.
Alternative Learning & Rubric:
In addition to quizzes, assignments, and mid and final term tests, I have an idea to let them apply their knowledge in English tenses and other sentence constructions by allowing them to create compositions. The compositions will be closely related to what they have learned in the classroom. For example: this week the students are learning Passive Voice. I will ask them to write a composition to describe the class situation when they were studying this subject. They should write it in past tenses and passive voice. By doing so, they can directly apply the passive sentence constructions and past tenses at the same time. The rubric for this alternative assessment can be found in Rubistar. My rubric ID # is: 2110998.