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February 10, 2017
Top 7 PBL News Stories

by John Larmer
Editor in Chief

Feb. 6-10, 2017


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

Here’s what we liked this week:

Schools Already Have Good Learning, Just Not Where You Think
Education Week
Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine’s research led them to see that “peripheral” experiences in school—drama, newspaper, sports, etc.—were much more engaging and powerful than typical core disciplinary classes. This piece unpacks the reasons why, using the production of a school play as an example, then connects this nicely to PBL and the challenges a teacher faces (most of which occur when PBL is not adopted school-wide, I’d hasten to add).

Scientists Take On New Roles in K-12 Classrooms
Education Week
To assist schools implementing the Next Generation Science Standards, the National Board on Science Education brought together science educators and members of professional science groups to discuss partnerships between scientists and teachers—which often lead to PBL. I loved the story of how a researcher at Arizona State University is “working with teachers in a local Navajo community to develop a curriculum for tribal middle schools that ties science and engineering to students' cultural history and community problem-solving.” For example, “students design and test scale models to solve community problems, such as creating portable corrals for managing livestock.”

Sample Projects for Global Competence
World Savvy
I ran across this nonprofit org in a NY Times opinion piece about the need to prepare students for a complex world, and it has a great website that highlights three sample units: a 6th grade drought project, a 7th grade Islam project, and an 11-12th grade human trafficking project.

Teachers: Should you use business tactics for happier classrooms?
Here’s another one from the business world that points to PBL. Researchers found that “top principles for managers in ‘best places to work’ environments (are) empowering teams and avoiding micromanagement, being great coaches, and emphasizing accountability”—then they give seven PBL-aligned suggestions for applying these findings in the classroom.

CentennialX: A Summer Program that Ruined School for Our Students
Education Week
A cool story from a “socio-economically diverse, working class district outside of Philadelphia, (where) many of our students will be the first in their family to attend university.” As an experiment, educators there created a summer program where high school students tackled real-world challenges in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. It was so successful that (see title).

STEM High School Teachers’ Views of Implementing PBL: An Investigation Using Anecdote Circles
Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning
Researchers from the University of Akron, Ohio studying the “other” PBL—problem-based learning—identified challenges in the areas of assessment, coaching and training, and authentic learning, but offer some useful strategies for overcoming them (scroll down to the table in the  “Results and Discussion” section around page 7 if reading the research-ese is too much).

How Small Steps Can Create Outdoors Experiences In Schools
KQED Mind/Shift
Lots of helpful tips for low-cost ways to get students outdoors, which can jump-start ideas for projects. I like the guides provided by Green Schoolyards with suggestions for converting asphalt to greenery.


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