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February 17, 2017
Top 10 PBL News Stories

by John Larmer
Editor in Chief

Feb. 13-17, 2017

Each Friday we post a list of articles, blog posts, research studies, and other resources we’ve run across that relate to Project Based Learning.

Here’s what we liked this week:

Q & A With Nancy Faust Sizer: 'The Whole Country Has to Care'
Education Week
The educator and wife of Ted Sizer, founder of the Coalition of Essential Schools, reflects on the state of the “school reform” movement in today’s America. I was struck by her comments around equity, such as, “You can care tremendously about children and just not care about some of the ones who don’t seem to like school much, behave very well in school, or find it very easy.”

Getting Students Into College Is Not Enough
Summit Preparatory Charter High School in Redwood City, CA decided to better prepare its graduates for success in college by teaching cognitive skills through PBL. They used a cognitive skills rubric developed at the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE) and BIE’s Project Design Rubric to inform their work.

When Ms. Frizzle Returns, What Will She Say About Modern-Day Education?
Education Week
Netflix has recently rebooted the popular 1990’s animated children’s educational show “The Magic School Bus.” According to the article's author, the show’s main character, science teacher Ms. Frizzle, “was all about project-based learning!”.

The Best Tool for Personalization Might Be Sitting Right Next to You
Alliance for Excellent Education
Drew Schrader offers excellent advice in an article connecting PBL with personalized learning—as it should be—with four ways that “PBL might leverage peers as a personalizing killer app.”

When Projects Are Personalized, Learning Is Social
Education Week/Learning Deeply blog
Kristen Vogt, Knowledge Management Officer at Next Generation Learning Challenges, adds to the case for connecting PBL with personalized learning. A key idea: “Personalized learning is all about putting the student at the center of their learning experience, with a laser focus on the specific strengths, needs, interests, and goals of each student. But that doesn't mean that students are isolated from their peers, their teachers, or the world around them.“

7 Tips for Using Project Based Learning in the ESL Classroom
Busy Teacher
Here’s a good overview of how PBL can be used with English learners. A key insight: “When you do traditional lessons in the ESL class, it’s not unusual to separate reading from speaking from grammar from listening. That’s not how language works in the real world…. Project based learning depends on successful communication at every step in the process.”

Use Design Thinking to Create an Opportunity to Learn
Education Week
Beth Holland tells about facilitating hands-on design thinking activities for teachers recently at the EdTechTeacher Innovation Summit. The purpose was to give teachers an experience to help them understand what it feels like to be students in a non-traditional classroom—much like BIE’s “project slice.”

Health-Related Fitness Knowledge Development Through Project-Based Learning
Journal of Teaching in Physical Education
More evidence of PBL’s effectiveness in terms of acquisition and retention of knowledge: A study of 185 fifth graders in Alabama found “a statistically significant difference between the two group conditions with the PBL cohort scoring 18.85% greater than the control schools” on a written test of health-related fitness knowledge.

So Your Kids’ PBL Work Sucks? 8 Ways to Improve It!
LifePractice Learning/Ginger Lewman
Teacher, consultant, and blogger Ginger Lewman gives some sage advice on how to improve the quality of student work in a project. I especially like #4: “Research together as a whole class” to make it more efficient compared to the “dilly-dallying” that often occurs when students research individually.

DIY Guides and Grants
Allen Distinguished Educators
This grant program rewards teachers who have created “innovative computer science, engineering and entrepreneurship projects.” The website has detailed teaching guides and useful materials. Some activities are not quite “main course” PBL units, but they’re very cool ideas.


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