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by Chris Fancher
National Faculty

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May 11, 2016
Tips for Getting Started With Project Based Learning

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by Chris Fancher
National Faculty

This is the year. You have been thinking about having your students complete a project for quite some time. You’ve read about this Project Based Learning (PBL) stuff and it has your interest. You have a colleague who went to some training and she is all excited about the process. She even says her students have never been more excited and engaged. You want your students to walk out of your class feeling that way.

But where do you start? You know your content/subject area, so you are ahead of the game. Let’s look at the key places that will help you get ideas for successful projects in your content area.

Getting Ideas & Planning Tools
The two best resources for ideation are the BIE.org website and the Edutopia website. Once you have explored these sites you will see that there are other websites with sample projects. For example, there are several school systems that are heavily engaged in the PBL process. These include the New Tech Network, the DaVinci Schools, and High Tech High.

Starting with BIE’s website you will notice that you are able to “Sign Up” on the site. Doing this allows you the ability to store project plans on their site (in the project planner) as well as being able to access all of their great resources. Inside the Resources tab you will find a direct link to the Project Planner and another link to the Project Search.

The beauty of the Project Planner is that it has the key components in project design already embedded within the template. No need to remember all of the components of Gold Standard PBL. And in the Project Search you will have access to over 500 projects that have been curated and uploaded for you to peruse.

Over on the Edutopia website you will find a section directly related to project based learning. For inspiration check out the section on “Schools That Work,” with examples of projects teachers have run in their classrooms. In addition to possibly seeing a project in your subject area, you will be able to see examples of classroom management and key steps in the PBL process.

On both BIE and Edutopia you will find wonderful videos with explanations on each of the parts of a project; examples of project planning; as well as feedback from students who have experienced the project cycle. You can find BIE Videos here and Edutopia videos here.

Twitter Chats & EdCamps
After looking at the main two websites and looking at schools that are doing great PBL work, there is one last resource that you may not have thought about. My number one educator who compiles information on everything related to schools, learning, and education is Mr. Jerry Blumengarten, who is known as Cybraryman. He is best known for his list of Twitter chats and Edcamps. His section on PBL is very thorough.

As you start the planning process you will want to have access to people who are actively involved in planning projects and people who coach teachers through the process. The top place for getting information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is Twitter.

If you are on Twitter start following the hashtag, #pblchat.  Other chats to follow include #dtk12chat which is based around design thinking and #educoach which is a place for instructional coaches to share ideas and help each other.

There are incredible educators all across the globe doing interesting projects with their students. And these projects are being done in classrooms from Pre-Kindergarten to Post-Secondary. People love to share their successes and even their failures. As you already knew, today is a great day to get started with PBL.

 

Do you have questions or comments about getting started with PBL? Please enter them below.


 Comments

  • Is there a book that you’d recommend to teachers new to PBL? I’d like to start an online book chat about PBL for teachers new to it.

    patwerner on May 26, 2016 
    [Reply to this comment]
    • I’d recommend the book I co-authored and BIE published with ASCD last year, Setting the Standard for PBL. It’s available in our online shop:  https://shop.bie.org/store-c2.aspx
      Lots of other books, articles, blog posts, videos, etc. are on our site too. Please let us know how the online chat goes!

      John Larmer on May 26, 2016 
      [Reply to this comment]

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