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by John Larmer
Editor in Chief

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May 19, 2017
Top 8 PBL News Stories

by John Larmer
Editor in Chief

May 15-19, 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:

Coaching for High-Quality Project Based Learning
Getting Smart podcast
As part of the High-Quality PBL project, Emily Liebtag reports on a conversation with Andrew Biros, a coach with the New Tech Network, on what it takes to improve teachers’ practice of PBL.

The Missing Ingredient in PBL: Direct Instruction
Corwin Connect
This is not a recent post but it was just recently being shared on Twitter and it’s well worth reading. PBL advocate Michael McDowell makes a strong case for not confusing direct instruction with didactic instruction, giving those of us in the PBL camp both a warning and strategies for improving instruction during a project.

To Engage Students and Teachers, Treat Core Subjects Like Extracurriculars
KQED Mind/Shift
This report on the work of education researchers Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine talks about how PBL classrooms, unlike traditionally-taught academic subjects, have the features that motivate students--like they are by sports, drama, and elective classes.

Goodbye ABCs: How One State is Moving Beyond Grade Levels and Graded Assessments
Seven elementary schools in New Hampshire are piloting an innovative structure: students are not grouped by grade level but by competency needs, and are not given letter grades but feedback from performance-based assessments. PBL is one of the schools’ key tenets. Sounds promising!

Students use school expo to call attention to global water crisis
Texarkana Gazette
This local news story highlights the work of one of BIE’s partner school districts. In the district’s first “Project Based Learning Expo” night last week, one team of 8th graders showed how they tackled a real-world issue with an action project to help address fresh water availability issues around the world.

Teaching 21st Century Skills Requires More Than Just Technology
Education Week Researcher
Great point made in this post by Beth Holland. She notes that along with P21’s 4Cs, some classrooms have “The Fake Cs” that “happen most often with communication and collaboration because technology creates the appearance of their existence.” She gives the example of a team of students each contributing their own part of a shared Google doc but not actually “collaborating.”

Driving Questions and PBL: crafting your own KADQ
Life Practice Learning
Another good one from Ginger Lewman, who gives PBL rookies permission (which I’d support) to use project driving questions that sound more “schooly” than totally “real-world.” (btw, KADQ means “Kick Ass Driving Question”)

10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning
Modern Learners
Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon have released a thorough, forward-thinking report calling for far greater student agency over their learning and deeper shifts in school culture than what we see in today’s reforms such as 21st century skills, personalized learning, flipped classrooms, blended learning, genius hours, makers spaces, hours of coding, and so on.


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