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September 9, 2016
Top 7 PBL News Stories

by John Larmer
Editor in Chief

Sept. 5-9, 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:

How Failure and Solving Real Problems Helps This School Thrive
KQED Mind/Shift
Lots of wisdom and powerful lessons learned in this story about STEM School Chattanooga in Tennessee. It follows the experience of a successful high school math teacher, new to the school, who was skeptical about PBL and its emphasis on “process skills” but became convinced. Contains excellent advice about forming partnerships with local businesses, coaching student collaboration, and coaching PBL teachers.

Conference on Educational Leadership
Shameless plug time: BIE is doing a pre-conference institute on Nov. 3 at this event in National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. It’s called “Implementing Gold Standard Project-Based Learning Across Schools/Districts” and it will be conducted by me and Brandon Wiley, our Senior Director of Programs. Hope to see you there!

Project-Based Learning Can Fuel Tomorrow’s Workforce
Huffington Post
Guest author Jim Postl, a 40-year veteran of the business world, argues for deeper learning and its “centerpiece” PBL, to build the “executive functioning” skills students need.

Persistent Teaching Practices After Geospatial Technology Professional Development
Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education Journal
This is a long one, but a good one. Researchers studied 5th to 9th-grade teachers who were trained in a PBL approach to teaching science with geospatial technology. The study identified “characteristics of persistent teachers” who were able to continue using the approach over time, despite challenges with standardized testing pressures, conflicts with traditional grading practices, and in some cases lack of technological expertise. Lots of interesting findings about innovation diffusion and early adopters vs. early majority vs. late majority – issues which BIE is also addressing in its new strategic plan.

How Student Civic Action Deepens Inquiry and Project Based Learning
Writer and consultant Steve Zemelman advocates for PBL that is focused on “school and community issues that students care about” and points to work being done along these lines by Chicago Public Schools – with a link to a TEDx talk by a Chicago teacher.

Why New Vocational Education Isn't Reaching Classrooms
The Atlantic
Why does it take so long for progressive career/tech courses to get to students? State education bureaucratic processes are slow to approve new courses, that’s why, but this frustrates teachers and business/industry partners.

Love Learning Blog
Tamara Afanasyeva
This middle school English teacher shares some great projects in her posts, such as “Bring the Science Fair to Your Literature Class,” “Romeo and Juliet: Collaborative Project” and “Building Confidence in ELL Students.”


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