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April 14, 2017
Top 10 PBL News Stories

by John Larmer
Editor in Chief

April 10-14, 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:

Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers.
The New York Times
This article has interesting implications for PBL. Its subtitle says, “The glorification of leadership skills, especially in college admissions, has emptied leadership of its meaning” and points to the phenomenon of high school students padding their resumes by leading school clubs or student body activities. PBL also provides opportunities for students to learn leadership skills, of course, but this article reminds us, when we discuss collaboration skills, that we should talk more with students about what it means to be a good follower and why it’s important.

Don’t Personalize Learning
Dan Meyer’s blog
Here's a provocative piece I just ran across that first appeared in 2014, but still relevant today more than ever with the growth of the “personalized learning” trend. I agree with Dan that the way PL is used in many schools can “circumscribe pedagogical possibilities… Which is to say, a lot of fun learning in math class (Ed: or any class, or PBL) – argument, discussion, and debate.” Dan links to another argument against too much personalized learning by Benjamin Riley (who draws from Dan Willingham) and an excellent rebuttal by Alex Hernandez.

How to Shake the Blended Learning Blues
A Florida teacher tells how she rebelled against the disengaging over-emphasis on informational text in her school’s 1:1 technology program, and decided to teach Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House instead, with powerful results for her students. The case she makes for the value of literature mirrors what I’d say about including PBL in a blended program.

4 ways to use Virtual Reality in project-based learning
Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education
First one I’ve seen explicitly connecting these two hot trends, from Katy Farber in Vermont. She gives creative yet practical examples of how VR can be used for entry events and to deepen research, guide driving questions, and create culminating events.

Birmingham Covington: Building a Student-Centered School
A public magnet school in suburban Michigan serving grade 3-8 students uses projects in its effective program that “relentlessly focuses the classwork on student interest and independence.”

The skill, will, and thrill of Project Based Learning
Bianca Hewes blog
Our good mate and always-thoughtful Aussie PBL teacher/blogger reports on her recent visit to the Visible Learning Symposium, where she took issue with John Hattie’s presentation of research on the problems with problem-based learning. She argues (as we do in our book and here) that many of the practices Hattie identifies as effective teaching are in fact contained in (Gold Standard) Project Based Learning.

A Common Sense Argument
Modern Learners
Education “instigator” and author Will Richardson makes a powerful argument against the prevalent story in our society of what leads to “success” in school, which causes kids to “lose their joy for learning and for school.”

Project-Based Teaching: The Untamed Spaces of Innovation
Getting Smart
Jill Ackers-Clayton (author, school leader, consultant, and member of BIE’s National Faculty) draws a parallel between how students feel in a project and the “authentic challenge” a teacher faces when taking the leap into the problem-solving process that becoming a PBL teacher represents.

Authentic Learning Requires Authentic Assessment
Another one I missed when it was originally posted (in 2016) but it’s worth sharing now. William Bryant calls for big changes in our standardized test-based assessment system, including the need for large-scale use of performance-based assessment.

6 Small Steps To Shift Toward Project-Based Learning
Getting Smart
Christina Lovdal Gil offers practical advice for teachers to prepare themselves and their students for PBL by incorporating some of its practices into “regular” teaching.


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