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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Application of the Problem-Based Model of Teaching with a Lesson on the Culture of Israel

When mentoring our pre-service and in-service teachers we need to describe and model both research-based and clinically tested best practices. Accordingly, our mentees should know about the Problem-Based Model of Teaching.

In today’s post we will insert a lesson on Israel into the five-step Problem-Based Model of Teaching template.

The Five Steps of the Problem-Based

Model of Teaching

Enduring Jewish Knowledge: Knowledge and concern about Israel

Content: A celebration of the culture of Israel



Teacher and/or Student Behavior


Get students ready to learn, and orient them to the problem

· Teacher motivates students to engage in a self-selected problem-solving activity, and says, “Today we are going to begin a unit on Israel. This unit may last for a few weeks, or for a longer or shorter period of time. It will be dependent on the questions you want to explore, and how you wish to share what you have learned. Now, many students in our class have visited Eretz Yisrael, and many others have not. So two of the questions that we may want to explore are as follows: (1) Why should a Jewish person visit Israel? and (2) How can a trip to Israel change one’s life?”

· Teacher reviews the objectives of the unit and says, “Together we are going to determine (a) what questions should we investigate about Israel; (b) how do we find the answers to those questions; and (c) how we will present what we have learned about Israel to others within and possibly outside of our classroom and school. These decisions will be determined by you and me.”

· Teacher explains the logistical requirements for the study and says, “This means we will have to form study teams; each team will investigate a different set of questions about Israel, and each team will develop an action plan for completing the project. That also means that each team member will have a specific role to play for gathering information, and presenting that knowledge to the class, and perhaps others.”


Organize students for study

· Teacher uses a cooperative procedure such as “Team Webbing[1] to empower students to create the questions for their investigation. With Team Webbing each group of students is given a different general topic about Israel (e.g. places to visit, geography, history, literature, art, music, etc.). This general topic (e.g. places to visit in Israel) is written in the middle of a circle on chart paper. Attached to the circle are lines, one line for each member of the team. At the end of a line, each team member records (a) a set of questions (e.g. where is Safed; why is it a holy city?) and/or (b) ideas for the investigation (e.g. Masada), thus creating a team web. At a signal from the teacher, each team stops recording its questions and ideas for the inquiry. Their web is then passed on to another team who had simultaneously recorded their own questions and ideas onto another web with a different content focus (e.g. geography). Each team then adds new ideas to the web they had received. The process continues until each team has had a chance to contribute to each of the team webs. All webs are then posted around the room, and the teacher facilitates a classroom discussion on what questions the class should investigate in each content area. The teacher, with input from the students, determines the size and membership of each team.


Assist independent and group investigation

· Teacher prepares materials and resources for students to use in their investigation. Each team must submit a preliminary report on what questions it will investigate, and which member/s will be responsible for researching the answers to those questions. Upon the teacher’s approval, the team can begin its inquiry. The teacher then monitors the students on-task behavior to see how well each member, and the team is functioning.


Develop and present findings and conclusions

· Teacher facilitates a classroom discussion on how each team might present its findings and conclusions to the class, or others within or outside of the school community. Each team can choose to present its results in a number of ways including: a panel discussion, art exhibit, musical performance, diorama, slide show, power point, photographs, etc. The only requirement is that all team members must participate in the planning, rehearsing, and presenting phase of the investigation.


Analyze and evaluate the problem-solving process

· Teacher implements an assessment activity that helps students reflect on their investigations and the processes they used. For example, the teacher might use Think-Write-Pair-Share for reflection; Students would then think about, and record their thoughts on these sample questions: 1. How did your team determine what questions to investigate? 2. How did your team decide which student/s investigated each question? 3. How did you go about finding the answers to your question/s? 4. What problem/s did you encounter in your individual and group investigation? 5. How did your team decide which method to use to present your findings and conclusions? 6. How did your team decide on the roles that each member would play in the final presentation? 7.What did you learn about the content, yourself, and group investigation from this project?

[1] Other cooperative procedures such as Think-Write-Pair-Share, Rally Round, Round Table, and Round Robin Brainstorming in conjunction with the visual cueing prompts (i.e. Think-Trix, Q-Matrix and The Six Types of Questions) can also be used.

On the next post we will explore how the Problem-Based Model of Teaching might be used when teaching about the Tanach, tefilah, history, Hebrew, the hagim, and the middot.

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