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November 17, 2017
Top 10 PBL News Stories

by John Larmer
Editor in Chief

Nov. 17, 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.

Keeping Content in the Forefront: Standards-Based Grading in Project-Based Learning
Magnify Learning blog
Another excellent post from Andrew Larson, a science teacher at Columbus Signature Academy New Tech High School, describing his struggles, successes, and lessons learned in reconciling SBG and PBL.

How This Elementary School In The Bronx Is Using Farming As A Vehicle For Change
A succinct overview of the work of Stephen Ritz, BIE’s PBL Champion 2016, a teacher who transforms the lives (and eating habits) of his mostly low-income students in the Bronx, NY. (See his new book, co-authored with Suzie Boss, The Power of a Plant).

The Intersection of Project Based Learning and Proficiency Based Learning
Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education
Here’s the slide deck from a presentation at the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) Annual Conference recently in Philadelphia. Our friends at the Tarrant Institute in Vermont put together a nice analysis of the compatibility of the two PBLs and connect them to other trends: check out this graphic, from slide #7:

How Project-Based Instruction Can Ignite Your Child’s Love for Learning
ADDitude Magazine
From an unusual source, this post is written for parents of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and I take it as an indicator of PBL’s increasing spread in education. The subtitle sums it up: “Traditional classroom activities (like lectures, essays, or other snoozefests) don’t accomplish anything for most kids with ADHD. Instead, ask your child’s teacher to implement this inattention-friendly learning technique that’s more effective than a thousand worksheets.”

What Will Change If I Start Practicing PBL?
Getting Smart
Educator, BIE National Faculty member, and prolific blogger Michael Niehoff reports on the positive effects PBL has on teachers (“I am able to enjoy a great deal more opportunity for individual support and instruction”), students (“more mature, professional, focused, and ready”), and classrooms (“they don’t have time to misbehave”).

25 Self-Reflection Questions to Get Students Thinking About Their Learning
Global Digital Citizen
Lee Watanabe Crockett shares some great questions to ask students to reflect on at the end of a project.

Project Based Learning in the Chemistry Class blog
High school chemistry teacher Jamie Camp, after his participation in one of BIE’s PBL 101 workshops, is blogging about his first PBL project, where students investigate the problem of plastics in the ocean. This post is part 2, with his reflections on the Gold Standard PBL Essential Element “Sustained Inquiry” and how he managed this part of the project.

Salting the Oats: How Effective Coaches Ready PBL Teachers
Partnership for 21st Century Learning
An oldie but a goodie I just saw, which I’m listing now because it’s aimed at an audience you don’t see much for: those who coach PBL teachers. Lots of wisdom here from Deb Gerdes, who was a leader for many years at the famous problem-based learning school, the Illinois Math and Science Academy.

Gender and Participation in an Engineering Problem-Based Learning Environment
Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning
This is from a post-secondary setting (where the “other PBL” is more prevalent) but it offers some lessons for K-12 teachers in coaching project teams. The study found imbalances in how “high status and low status students” spoke in a team, which were not always based on gender. Conclusion: “it is imperative that PBL instructors notice interactions between all students—not solely between male and female students—and do their best to facilitate more balanced participation.“

Sustainability and Us blog
A teacher-created, nicely designed blog site about a 4th grade science, social studies, and ELA project in Canada whose culmination is, “Students will draft a proposal to the City of Calgary to have their seedlings planted in an urban space and contribute to creating a community garden.”


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