by John Larmer
Editor in Chief
(Note: I’m not calling this the “Top 10” anymore, because there are so many good PBL-connected items to pass along these days and I don’t want to leave them out, so there could be 11, 12, 13…)
Here are some articles, blog posts, research studies, and other resources I’ve recently run across that relate to Project Based Learning.
Kerner at 50: Educational Equity Still a Dream Deferred
Learning Policy Institute
Linda Darling-Hammond (who is our keynote speaker this year at PBL World) wrote this article as the first in a series, Education and the Path to Equity. While mostly noting how far we have to go, she points to a few bright spots, including some communities’ investment in deeper learning.
A Place-Based Approach to PBL
Suzie Boss shares her conversation with Sarah Anderson, author of a new book that sounds great, Bringing School to Life: Place-Based Education across the Curriculum. She advocates for connecting “the curriculum to real life” with projects that meet local needs.
Project Audio: Teaching Students How to Produce Their Own Podcasts
The New York Times
This article announces NYT’s first-ever student podcast contest (running from April 25-May 29) and gives great advice for planning and scaffolding podcast projects, with helpful links to tools.
What’s Actually Working in the Classroom?
Ted Dintersmith, producer of the film Most Likely to Succeed, has traveled the U.S. to find “transformational teachers” who help students develop expertise in 4 “peak principles”: purpose, essentials, agency, and knowledge. He praises teachers who “cast aside worksheets, textbooks, lectures, and test preparation in favor of empowering students to collaborate, solve real-world problems, and discover their strengths and interests.”
Engineering for Good
PBS Learning Media
Here’s what looks like an excellent 3-week middle school NGSS-aligned project, which includes comprehensive teacher support from KQED Teach, in which students devise solutions to the problem of plastics in the environment.
HQPBL Case Study: Albemarle County Public Schools
Emily Liebtag tells the story (with a nice video) of a district in Charlottesville, Virginia that has successfully implemented PBL. Love hearing this: “Teachers shared that while the goal of making sure students have HQPBL experiences is NOT to raise test scores, students’ performance on standard accountability measures improved after implementing projects.”
The Value of Failing
Teacher’s College, Columbia has created the Education for Persistence and Innovation Center, “dedicated to studying failure’s educational purpose”—which PBL teachers understand.
Tools for Project Based Learning
Common Sense Media
Here’s an excellent list of 19 of CSM’s top picks for online tools for project management and sources of project ideas.
Cult of Pedagogy
Another good post from Jennifer Gonzalez, who dissects the various types of worksheets and makes the point that not all of them are “bad”—some have valid purposes in the context of PBL and progressive teaching. Love that she named her post after the video she links to, which went viral in 2013, showing fed-up high school student Jeff Bliss berate his teacher for handing out worksheets and not engaging with students.
Educator Spotlight: Jackie Chisam on Bringing PBL into the Traditional Classroom
W & M Center for Innovation in Learning Design
I really like this post from the College of William and Mary School of Education, about a high school English teacher who says “PBL doesn’t have to be all or nothing.” She explains how she uses various PBL strategies in her “regular” teaching and builds students’ skills in teamwork, reflection, and taking on more responsibility for their own learning. (See this post and this post for similar advice.)
How Project Based Learning Helps Special Needs Students Collaborate and Connect
Special needs high school teacher Jill Koenemann passes along some helpful tips, project examples, and persuasive arguments.
Students use computational thinking to analyze real problems
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
Math teachers exploring PBL will find much to chew on in this detailed post, which describes 8th grade algebra projects that apply math to issues from breast cancer to the effects of gendered bathrooms to “the size of the eagle population in Alaska to disparity between the number of spectators who attend women’s sporting events versus men’s.”
Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch
This video is from 2016 but it’s a good one I just heard about on Twitter. Ed Direction founder and CEO Trent Kaufman (who, when he was a high school teacher, used the Buck Institute’s Project Based Economics and Government units and became one of our trainers) makes the case for school leaders to focus on only a few initiatives, in order to create lasting change in a school’s culture. Which is just what we say about a PBL initiative: do it deeply and well, and sustain it over time.