Project Based Learning in Guidance Classes

Course 4 Week 3: Does project-based learning have a place in my classroom?  What hurdles do I need to over come to make it work in my classroom?

Reading Introduction to Project Based Learning helped me understand project based learning more in depth.  The article states,

 There is no one accepted definition of PBL. However, BIE defines
standards-focused PBL as a systematic teaching method that engages
students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and
carefully designed products and tasks. This definition encompasses a
spectrum ranging from brief projects of one to two weeks based on a
single subject in one classroom to yearlong, interdisciplinary projects
that involve community participation and adults outside the school.

Guidance classes foster the inquiry process very easily.  The way ASIJ’s curriculum is written with Atlas Curriculum Mapping also supports the inquiry process.  Here are some examples of essential questions in grade 3 guidance classes:

  • What kind of a friend am I?
  • How can I make and keep friends?
  • What kind of behaviors will get in a way of being a good friend?
  • What kind of behaviors will help me make and keep friends?
  • What does it mean to be a constructive community member?
  • Why would I need to say “No” to my friends?
  • How do I say “No” to my friends?

I can definitely see project based learning in guidance classes.    Children are  interested and fascinated with understanding human relationships, its ups and downs.  Sounds easy, but trying something new can be messy at first, as explained in the article, Perfecting with Practice: Project Based Teaching.   This article states,  ” students may decide to head in directions their teacher never anticipated.”, and this is what I am most concerned about.  It can throw me off when kids go somewhere I hadn’t expected at all.  But that shouldn’t be a reason for not trying something new.

I haven’t figured out the particulars of how project based learning will be organized in guidance classes, but I suspect students will be able to choose kind of projects they want in order to answer questions they have about friendships, anger management, and refusal skills.

Kids, we will have fun doing projects in guidance classes next year!


About Naho Kikuchi

Elementary school counselor at The American School in Japan. Living and working in West Tokyo since 1997. Forever trying to figure out how to balance work, family and time for myself.
This entry was posted in 21st Century School, COETAIL, Guidance Lessons. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Project Based Learning in Guidance Classes

  1. I imagine with the time restrictions you must face, doing PBL can be difficult. But you’re right…the topics being discussed in your classes that kids are naturally engaged in and PBL is a natural fit. Good luck!

  2. Jean Hino says:

    How often do you go into the elementary classrooms? Is it possible to do a project with the classroom teachers? I’ll be interested in hearing more about your projects as I work with our elementary guidance counselor. This past year, she did all of her lessons while I was at COETAIL. I’m looking forward to being back in the classroom when she is teaching so I can do more direct follow up. It is always helpful to me as a classroom teacher to have the guidance counselor willing to do a lesson on a problem we’re having in the classroom and have the students hear from more than just me.

    • Naho Kikuchi says:

      Hi Jean,

      Thank you for your comment. I hope your new school year is off to a good start.
      I have guidance lessons every other cycle. Our cycle consists of 6 days, so this schedule translates into about twice a month. This year, I will be co-teaching with Grade 5 classroom teachers during Social Studies Unit on “Think Digital.” We are starting the unit on Digital Citizenship before students receive their Mac Books. We are covering this topic every other day for about 2 weeks, and I am scheduled to start today. Grade 5 students will see me tons during the first month!

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