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November 3, 2017
Top 10 PBL News Stories

by John Larmer
Editor in Chief

Nov. 3, 2017

(Our PBL news roundup is now being posted every other Friday, alternating with posts from me on various PBL topics.)

Here are some articles, blog posts, research studies, and other resources I’ve recently run across that relate to Project Based Learning.

Share Your Learning
Hewlett Foundation
This new initiative aims to “increase student engagement by making learning public”—familiar words to PBL fans—by providing a toolkit and building a community of educators who do this through student-led conferences, exhibitions of student work, or presentations of learning.

Inquiry and the Research Process
Here’s a great post from Beth Holland about one of the trickiest parts of PBL: the inquiry process. She says, “inquiry and research had somehow morphed into synonyms” and explains the difference, with three strategies to encourage inquiry.

Learning Is Open Podcast with Bob Lenz
BIE’s Executive Director talks about what it looks like to teach in a PBL classroom and how it can benefit students.

Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools
PDK Foundation
According to this recent poll, “the public gives much more weight to students’ job preparation and interpersonal development than to their standardized test scores” but academic preparation is still valued too. (We think PBL, done well, can help accomplish all these goals.)

21st Century Educator Oath #1: Defend Young People Whenever You Can
Edu Change & Student Advocacy
Educator, blogger, and BIE National Faculty member Michael Niehoff delivers the first of a series of posts with an impassioned plea to honor the values and capabilities of young people (even if you’re from an earlier generation)—which connects to Gold Standard PBL, with its emphasis on authenticity and student voice and choice.

PBL Pitfalls to Avoid
I totally concur with Frank McKay’s advice about connecting to the real world, focusing on process, targeting standards, assessing individual learning not group work, and building a collaborative classroom culture.

Developing Students’ Ability to Give and Take Effective Feedback
An excellent post highlighting the “Six Thinking Hats” by Edward de Bono and ground rules for peer critique protocols, with stories of how these are put into practice in middle school, high school, and elementary school classrooms.

Projects Without Borders: Divergent Problem Solving in PBL
Middle Schoolers Go Global
Educational Leadership, ASCD (Oct. 2017 issue)
In the first article, Diane Lebeaux of the Center for Collaborative Education in Boston argues for PBL that includes “divergent problem solving” as opposed to students producing similar products based on what they think the teacher wants.  She also connects the best Out of School Time (OST) programs with the best features of PBL. In the second article, Mark Wise and Jay McTighe (of Understanding by Design) describe the positive results of a “global challenge” project, with an insightful analysis of key lessons the school learned.

Seizing the Civic Education Moment
Educational Leadership, ASCD (Nov. 2017 issue)
“To bolster students' understanding of politics and democracy, schools must couple experiential projects with in-depth content study” say the authors of this valuable article for PBL/social studies teachers. I like how they stress the need to avoid “sugar-rush civics” in favor of a “hybrid model” that combines real-world action projects with political theory. (Also see this piece by the Seattle Times on the need for better civics education that includes projects.)

How Do You Teach Collaboration?
New Tech Network
Kevin Gant offers some very helpful guidance for PBL teachers to teach students how to work in teams, under the headings “Describe it; Show it; Have students experience it; Provide Feedback.”


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