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September 2, 2016
Top 6 PBL News Stories

by John Larmer
Editor in Chief

Aug. 29 – Sept. 2, 2016


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

Here’s what we liked this week:

Part-Time Learning Is a Thing of the Past
U.S. News & World Report
A persuasive opinion piece advocates a longer school year – arguing that it would allow for more personalization, take a childcare burden off working families, and promote greater educational equity, since higher-income families already augment formal schooling for their children. This would create “a resurgence in subjects that are not currently tested such as social studies, history, science and art, as well as a blossoming of activities such as sports and physical education, field trips, extracurriculars, project-based learning, public service and so on. High school students could take on internships and jobs as part of their learning.”

Employers Find ‘Soft Skills’ Like Critical Thinking in Short Supply
Wall Street Journal
This article (which is behind a paywall) implicitly makes the case for PBL: “Companies across the U.S. say it is becoming increasingly difficult to find applicants who can communicate clearly, take initiative, problem-solve and get along with co-workers.” Put those project experiences on your resumes, students!

Five Ways to Ensure Real Learning Happens in Maker-Enhanced Projects
KQED Mind/Shift
An excellent post by Katrina Schwartz, who quotes an award-winning teacher: “There’s a lot of research out there about integrating making into PBL to ramp up what students are learning.” Among the five PBL-aligned guiding principles offered are: “Balance Clear Expectations with Open-Ended Problems”; “Assess Process Alongside Content,” and “Transfer Accountability to Students.”

What Kids Should Know by the Time They're Done With School
The Atlantic
Some of the experts in this article recommend fairly traditional academic content – which we think PBL can teach very well – while some suggest “real-world application and project-based learning” and an emphasis on how to “think critically and independently, navigate and conduct their own independent research… and collaborate with others.” (One says, “Avoid horrible two-week-long projects” but I presume he means stereotypical “dessert” projects, not Gold Standard PBL.)

Undergraduate Studies Program: Project-Based Learning
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
This great-sounding program was referenced in our recent post about the spread of PBL in higher education. Students “apply the knowledge learned in class and labs to real-world situations, developing solutions to problems that matter to real people” which helps students “become better collaborators, critical thinkers, public speakers, and communicators.” Go WPI!

Firefighting Students Keep Others Safe
C & G Newspapers
A report in the local press about Center Line High School, Michigan, in which high school students installed smoke detectors in their community’s homes as a service learning project. It was part of the district’s PBL initiative, which teacher Robert Plotzke says, “meant the students planned and executed the smoke detector program all on their own. They formed different committees, and everyone had a specific job.” Shout-out to Principal Benjamin Gurk for his spot-on explanation of PBL!


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