by Charity Moran Parsons
Are your PBL units standards-based? How do you know? How can we enhance our design process to ensure that Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills are being addressed in your projects?
BIE’s Project Assessment Map is a great tool that can be used to plan how you will use formative assessment in a project. Whether we are customizing a unit you already have or designing a unit from scratch, the Project Assessment Map helps us to begin with the end in mind as we design our PBL units. Use the 3.9 hacks below to tap into this tool’s planning power and manage your Project Assessment Mapping in a more efficient way.
Consider this Project Assessment Map for a sample project entitled A Home for Everyone. In this PBL unit, students will write a habitat report for their chosen zoo animal to answer the driving question: “How can we, as biologists, recommend the best habitat for animals in our zoo?”
Hack #1: Final Product Hack
On the far left, we list our final product or summative assessment. The Project Based Teaching Practice Design & Plan and the Essential Project Design Element Student Voice & Choice and Authenticity strongly come into play here. We can strategically insert authenticity into our PBL design by selecting products relevant to the real-world context of the content. When students are given the option to choose the format of their final product, no matter their choice, the Project Assessment Map will still function to outline the assessment plan and the content for the PBL unit.
To choose authentic product options or to help students select the best option, consider:
Your answers to these questions will guide you to the most grade-level appropriate options for final products/summative assessments.
Hack #2: Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills Hack
Continuing with the practice of Align to Standards, in this section of the Project Assessment Map, we outline the Key Knowledge, Understanding and Success Skills that are at the heart of our PBL units.
To help you decide what to insert, ask yourself the following questions:
The answers to these questions will lead to overarching standards, skills, and indicators that we can embed into our instruction.
Here’s the hack: The overarching content/topics that we insert into the middle column of our Project Assessment Map can then be broken down into the standards-based subskills and specific indicators, which in turn become our Learning Outcomes/Targets on our Project Overview: Student Learning Guide. Double down on function and use the subskills as reflection points throughout the PBL unit as well! Your reflection and discussion prompts could connect back to the subskills and learning targets, allowing you to provide feedback to students and gain data on the efficacy of instruction along the way.
Hack #3: Formative Assessment/Success Skills Indicators Hack
The Project Based Teaching Practice of Assess Student Learning and the Essential Project Design Elements of Critique & Revision, Reflection, and Authenticity are important to the third column of our Project Assessment Map. Now that we’ve formulated the first two sections to ensure that our final products are steeped in Key Knowledge, we will use the third column to plan authentic and relevant ways that feedback will be given to students and where you will gather data about instruction.
When selecting formative assessment strategies, again, think of real-world methods of gaining feedback that students might encounter in the real world as they create their final products. Consider including the following forms of formative assessment for various products:
Diversify the formative assessment options you select and be sure to include what you have found successful in your current classroom practice.
BONUS Hack #3.9: Success Skills Hack
As you decide upon the specific components of your chosen success skill, leverage your speaking & listening skills as indicators for the “Communication” or “Collaboration” success skill; your writing standards can also be incorporated into the research components. When it comes to indicators for all success skills, check out this page for ideas and rubrics!