Driving Questions Part 1: Building Student Inquiry in Project Based Learning and STEM

dq11

Welcome to this first post in a series that promotes student inquiry in PBL and STEM. This series is dedicated to helping educators create a student-centered Driving or Investigative Question… which is so important in STEM and PBL. You will discover multiple resources and ideas in this series, along with some great ideas for finding student success in student owned inquiry. In this first post, I would like to build the idea of what makes a Driving or Investigative Question important in student centered learning, and how it can uncover important standards. Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS, and also give me a follow… on Twitter at mjgormans. I promise you will find some wonderful information coming your way in the posts that follow…So sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet. Also remember you can book me for a conference or your school district with workshops that are informative, engaging, and practical. Check out my Booking Page and as always… thanks so much!  Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Quick Notes

A big shout out to EdTech Magazine for recognizing this blog on its 2017 Honor Roll. That is quite a compliment from such an amazing publication. I especially appreciated the following quote, “On his blog, Gorman shares what he has learned with a focus on how tech enables project-based learning.” Check out this wonderful magazine for some great K12 educational articles,

I will be presenting at PBL World in California in June. If you happen to be at the conference please stop by and say hello. I enjoy meeting my readers. As a National Faculty at BIE (BUCK Institute) I recommend the amazing resources and experiences provided by BIE.

I am also presenting at Alan November’s BLC in Boston in July. I have three pre-conference workshops that you may want to register for. They include; One-Half Day PBL Splash, Full Day PBL Starter; and a One-Half Day Technology Workshop dedicated to amplifying standards and process using Technology. I will also have three concurrent session during the main conference. As a member of Alan’s Team all year, it is a lot of fun to meet so many people from around the world at his summer conference in Boston. Learn more at the conference master classes page.

Driving Questions Part 1: Building Student Inquiry in Project Based Learning and STEM

I really like Diving and Investigative Questions. In fact, I like them so much more than Essential Questions. You might ask… why? I think it just might be my affection for the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. You may remember that in the revision the different levels of Blooms were changed into action. In fact, I strongly believe that learning is a verb and is based on action. Take away the word “Question” and both Driving and Investigating are wonderful verbs loaded with action.

The word “Essential” standing alone is only a word devoted to describing… a colorful but inactive adjective. Another reason I am fond of “Driving and Investigative Questions” is they allow students to work together in the amazing process of divergent thinking. As students bring this process around to identify answers and ideas that finally converge, they are suddenly back on the path to even higher order divergent thinking. It is amazing to watch students become aware that answers can bring on even more questions. Seems to me that it is a lot as if the students are moving up Bloom’s Taxonomy.

I believe that both DQ and IQ allow students to take part in real inquiry and research. If the question is Google-able then it probably is not deep inquiry. Now, using advanced Google skills to find answers that create more questions fits the bill for rigorous standards. Literacy that is built to comprehend, analyze, compare, contrast, and make meaning of nonfiction across the disciplines is essential. Be certain to take a look at the verbs in the standards educators must facilitate with students. These verbs really do provide some great inquiry action that can be found on the super highway of Driving Questions. As students approach the standards in this way inquiry leads to understanding and assimilation of new knowledge. Those educators striving to meet the demands of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge will appreciate using these questions and verbs to promote authentic learning.

Last, I like “Driving and Investigative Questions because there are so simple, that they can also be difficult to construct. Let me explain. The Driving Question or Investigative Question in Project Based learning and STEM can be often the hardest concept to get across to teachers. Even after a workshop devoted to PBL… questions will come across my email asking for help in constructing and refining the Driving or Investigative Question.

Writing The DQ and IQ’s For Student-centered Learning In PBL, STEM, and Inquiry

Why are driving and investigative questions so difficult to create? Perhaps it is the powerful and simple concept they ride upon in a world where teachers have been taught to use so much of their “educationese language” Educators must work at being aware of the important standards in their content area without blurting them out. It is at this point that educators come across that often talked about idea of “uncovering, not covering”, the standards. Educators are so often told to practice this methodology, but are seldom told how to do it. This is the power of the Driving and Investigative Question and its importance in PBL and STEM. It must be simply stated so that students can uncover the content standards themselves. It should not give away the contents standards which students may not really care about. It should engage the students and create wonderment through relevance to their world. It should drive them to an investigation to “uncover the standards” through carefully planned PBL and STEM.

Best of all, the teacher facilitates this learning experience by addressing both content and student success skills. The additional bonus of building important (success) 21st-century skills is a natural outcome. In order for students to “uncover the standards”, they will need to communicate, collaborate, think critically, and provide creative thought.

Examples Comparing an Essential Question to a Driving or Investigative Question:

Example 1

  • EQ: Can you describe a typical food chain for the herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores in the deciduous forest biome.
  • DQ/IQ: How can we as authors write a restaurant storybook menu for animals that live in the forest?

Example 2

  • EQ: How are measurement skills and our knowledge of math and geometry related to building a dream park with a given set of dimensions and budget?
  • DQ/IQ: In what way can we design, plan, and pitch a needed park for our community?

Example 3

  • EQ: What are the characteristics of the planets in our solar system in regard to atmosphere, surface, and composition?
  • DQ/IQ: How can we, as NASA scientists, write a proposal that recommends which planet should be explored by the next space probe?

Example 4

  • EQ: How can robots provide automation and use computer programs and code to deliver a given task?
  • DQ/IQ: Can we program a robot to ….?

Example 5

  • EQ: Can we name the various reasons that the American Colonies declared independence from England?
  • DQ/IQ: How might we write and produce a play that could be used today, or in our countries early history, to show why the colonies should declare independence?

Keep in mind that the Driving or Investigative Question may take on many names. The key point, is that it drives an investigation based on student owned inquiry. It really is the very first step in providing students that opportunity to not just answer the question, but come up with their own.

Next Post … Driving and Investigative Questions Part 2: Defining and Refining The Question in PBL and STEM

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators. As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week! Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

 Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page .  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through June and the rest of the 2017 calendar is filling fast.  Its also not to early to begin thinking of 2018! Please take a look at my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

 

 

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It’s True… I Teach Because I Can’t Do Anything Else

teach1

Many schools in the US are in the last stretch of another school year. With this in mind I wish to share with you one of my favorite annual  postings that I dedicate to  an amazing world of educators. I hope you find this reflection, one that you will continue to enjoy and share with others!   Also, please take a moment to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and  join me on twitter at mjgormans . I have some great posts coming your way involving PBL, STEM, tech integration, and a continuing series on Professional Learning Communities!  Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 25,000 visitors a month and over 10,000 subscribers.  I would appreciate it if you pass this special post on to others through email or a retweet!  Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging authentic and purposeful professional development . See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com). Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

 

Are you going to Alan November’s BLC in Boston this July (2017)? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you! (Link to Classes at Conference)

  • PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content (1/2 day Workshop)
  • PBL: Learn, Plan, Step, Action….A PBL Deep Dive for Teachers and Leaders (1 day Workshop)

Click here to learn more about BLC17….   I hope to see you in Boston this July

It’s True…  I Teach Because I Can’t Do Anything Else! – Michael Gorman – (21centuryedtech.wordpress.com)

Ok, so it’s true! I have spent nearly forty years in education because I cannot do anything else! In fact, while I travel around the country providing professional development involving all sorts of exciting educational possibilities I also still work at my school district providing learning experiences for students and educators. The idea of not being able to do anything else actually is something I have recently learned,  something I did not know  when I  presented my very first classroom lesson! I actually  began my undergraduate career in the College of Business with an eye on marketing. In the early stages of my teaching career, I became licensed to sell securities with the idea of becoming rich!  Little did I know that because I could only teach, I would find richness beyond monetary wealth! I dedicate this list of reasons to all of those great educators who teach because they cannot do anything else! Again please retweet and share with all of our colleagues that really can’t do anything else! Most of all enjoy the week and know that you are appreciated! – Mike

The List

I can’t be a banker or work in the financial business because while I might enjoy counting money and financial growth, I would rather count and measure the success of my students.

I can’t be a doctor or dentist because  while I enjoy seeing people smile as they leave and are healed, I get even more satisfaction if I see a smile when they first sit down.

I can’t be a professional athlete because while I do enjoy competition, I get even more satisfaction coaching young people to play each game with honor, integrity, and respect.

I can’t be a computer programmer because while creating new digital applications is exciting, finding ways to integrate technology to inspire real learning is rewarding.

I can’t work in agriculture or landscaping because while supplying food and natural beauty is appreciated by all, I enjoy planting seeds of life-long learning knowing that it will nourish one’s life.

I can’t work as a cook or chef because while I appreciate the art in a great meal, I most enjoy finding just the right ingredients that allow for a child’s success.

I can’t work in sales or marketing because even though I have learned from their great people skills, I would rather sell students on their abilities and possibilities.

I can’t be a pilot even though I appreciate them as I travel to new places, as I would rather facilitate young people as they climb in altitude and arrive at new destinations.

I can’t be an artist despite my appreciation for the beauty they bring, as I have found that my art is the ability to inspire and nurture children as they discover their innate abilities.

I can’t be a scientist or inventor because, while I am aware of the great advances they bring, I wish to create  innovative learning experiences that always end in success.

I could go on and on! As you can see, I really do appreciate all of the other professions and realize there are so many I can’t do. After all, as teachers, we really are preparing students for what they will do best in the world. Possibly in the future, those we teach will not be able to do anything else, because we have assisted them  in becoming the very best at what they do!  As I continue my journey I have expanded my teaching horizon and understand that a genuine educator, whether being a teacher, administrator, or educational leader, continue to teach and inspire others because they really can’t do anything else.

A  big shout out to all  educators at this very special time of year!  Thanks for joining me on another journey dedicated to learning in the 21st Century! As always I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@mjgormans), I will return the favor and we can teach each other! I also encourage you to sign up for this blog by email or RSS.  I invite you to share this posts with others through email or a retweet!  Thanks for your visit and know that I will keep  sharing, teaching, and facilitating all learners, after all, I can’t do anything else! – Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through June and the rest of the 2017 calendar is filling fast. Please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

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Aligning the Standards in Project Based Learning… 12 Essential Questions to Answer

align

Welcome to the fourth article in a series devoted to grounding PBL in the standards.  As you explore the ideas in this article I do hope you can see that PBL must be intentionally planned with standards in mind, while also making sure all the scaffolding and the components in the project are aligned. From project start to finish.  Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and join me on twitter at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet.  Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 25,000 visitors a month, over 10,000 subscribers, and possibly one of the thousands of educators that have attended my workshops at schools and conferences. Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging, authentic, affordable, and purposeful professional development. Please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

Are you going to Alan November’s BLC in Boston this July (2017)? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you! (Link to Classes at Conference)

  • PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content (1/2 day Workshop)
  • PBL: Learn, Plan, Step, Action….A PBL Deep Dive for Teachers and Leaders (1 day Workshop)

Click here to learn more about BLC17….   I hope to see you in Boston this July!

Aligning the Standards in Project Based Learning… 12 Essential Questions to Answer

In my workshops, I emphasize that one of the building blocks of PBL (Project Based Learning) maintains that a project must be grounded in standards and assessment. I call this PBL’s “Building Block G” (Grounded in the Standards). The last three posts have involved how PBL done right addresses the standards. As it does this it must not be an afterthought, it must be the project. After all, that is why we call it Project Based Learning. The learning is based in the project! If you missed the last three posts I have links provided below. Feel free to read and reflect on these articles and share with others. By grounding PBL in the standards we are one step toward going beyond doing projects. We are on our way to doing Project Based Learning!

  1. 15 ways that Content is facilitated in PBL
  2. 10 Ideas to Ensure That Project Based Learning is Grounded in Process, Understanding, and 21 Century Skills
  3. 5 Ideas to Incorporate Assessment in Project Based Learning to Facilitate Student Ownership

In this post, I want to address how standards in the PBL must be aligned from the beginning to the end of the project. As stated in the first three posts, in PBL the content standards, skills, and assessment are intentionally planned to assure that the project and process provide a high quality and rigorous learning experience. The project components and scaffolding are aligned to the standards.

Many times, teachers start off with great alignment and as they plan about the all the engaging possibilities, the alignment begins to disappear. This can happen for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps the project brought on other neat ideas, but the ideas did not come from or connect with standards. At times our planning can be weeks apart with multiple people and focus is lost. Other times we may force a project into a given set of standards, and it really does not fit. Perhaps we love the project, but it really does not fit. Last, we may not have intentionally looked for alignment. As we learn to become intentional in our planning, we begin to look at the entire scaffolding or mapping of the project. This ensures that the entire project including entry, questions, student inquiry, lessons, activities, rubric, assessment, and products are in sync. This intentional planning and alignment allows curricular content and 21st century skills to be activated, assessed, and in balance.  I have these questions to answer that will assist you in making sure proper alignment is present in your PBL.

  1. Does the project contain standards required in your curriculum?
  2. Are you spending more than double the time on the standards inside the project?
  3. Does the driving question require understanding of standards to answer?
  4. Is there an alignment of standards between project, entry event, and driving question?
  5. Do the products inside the PBL line up to standards and work together to answer driving question?
  6. Do all activities, lessons and rubrics in the products line up to standards?
  7. Are formative assessments parallel with mastery of standards?
  8. Does both individual and group work align with the standards?
  9. Does the final student project answer the driving question and necessitate understanding of standards?
  10. Is there a balance of 21century skills and content standards throughout the project?
  11. Have you missed any area where you could be more productive by bringing in standards not yet introduced or could be reinforced?
  12. Does any summative assessment employed address 21st century skills and content standards by incorporating both content knowledge and understanding through multiple styles of assessment?

I do hope you have enjoyed this series of articles dedicated to “Grounding the Standards in PBL”. The acquisition of content knowledge that has been deemed important by society is one of the key functions of education. Project based Learning honors this by immersing students in important content providing that needed foundation. In a world that is seeing content multiply at an expositional rate, it is also important to help students become seekers of knowledge and lifetime self-learners. Along with those additional 21t century skills, PBL provides the avenue to both build the content foundation while activating the natural ability to learn, a wonderful process inherent in all humans.

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through June and the rest of the 2017 calendar is filling fast. Please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

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5 Ideas to Incorporate Assessment in Project Based Learning … Grounded in the Standards

5pbl

Welcome to the third article in a series devoted to grounding PBL in the standards.  As you explore the ideas in this article I do hope you can see that our content standards provide a wonderful opportunity for our students to do, a concept at the foundation of PBL. Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and join me on twitter at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet.  Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 25,000 visitors a month, over 10,000 subscribers, and possibly one of the thousands of educators that have attended my workshops at schools and conferences. Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging, authentic, affordable, and purposeful professional development. Please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman  (mjgormans@gmail.com).

Are you going to Alan November’s BLC in Boston this July (2017)? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you! (Link to Classes at Conference) PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop) I hope to see you in Boston this July! Also, check out my Booking Page for presentations and workshops I can bring to your school or conference.

5 Ideas to Incorporate Assessment in Project Based Learning… Grounded in the Standards

In my workshops, I emphasize that one of the building blocks of PBL (Project Based Learning) maintains that a project must be grounded in standards and assessment. In the first post, I covered the first part of what I call PBL’s “Building Block G” (Grounded in Standards) and provided you 15 ways that content is facilitated in PBL I do recognize that many times it is the content that is tested on the standardized test, end of course assessment, and other high stake tests such as ACT, SAT, and AP.

In my last post, I examined how process, understanding, and 21 Century Skills are incorporated in standards based PBL. I provided ten ways to look at the standards with this lens focused on doing. In this mode students are now able to go beyond basic content acquisition. In PBL. students are provided the opportunity to do something with the standards.

In this post, I wish to speak to the idea of assessment in PBL. The reason I have put assessment the “G Block” Grounded in Standards is because there must be assessment, and it must assess the standards of content and process skills. As we dig deeper into standards and PBL we can find areas where assessment must be employed. Let’s examined five areas of assessment that I often find an important part of the PBL experience.

  1. Obtaining student progress data is imperative and typical summative assessment can be employed. After-all this will help students prepare for many of those high-stake tests that continue to prevail. Also, be aware that a summative form of assessment can go far beyond a written test. Keep in mind the ideas of performance, product, and demonstration of knowledge. Using a summative means to see if students have not only memorized, but can also show understanding and real world connections of the standards is vital. What are other ways we can test student learning? In other words, PBL does not require teachers to throw out the test. It might be that we are just looking at the test in a different way.

 

  1. Just as important, if not more important, is formative assessment. While this might be graded, the emphasis should be on the learning and improving. These formative pieces could be activities, discussions, check offs, benchmarks, games, practice, and metacognition. It should include formative assessment that allows for critique from teacher. It should also focus on review and reflection by peers and the individual. Through this process students will become aware of “how to learn” and will discover and practice the flow, cycle, and iterations that is the essence of learning. This is the foundation for student ownership and self-regulation of learning. Formative assessment should occur though out the project. Keep in mind that formative assessment’s main function is to plan for and facilitate the learning experience. While there may be some reasons to enlist a grade, the main function is to keep student learning on a steady course, headed toward success and mastery of the content. Formative assessment can be provided by the teacher, but the learner must also find ways to assess where they are at in their learning. This often involves discussion and metacognition. While formative assessment can be very informal it should also be deliberate and thoughtful. I often suggest that teachers create a journal for formative assessment as they go through the week. For a planned formative assessment, the activity should state:
    1. What standards are being formatively assesses in this activity?
    2. How are the standards being formally assessed?
    3. What real world value is there for the assessment?
    4. Who is doing the assessment (or combination of who) … teacher, student, peer, mentor?

 

  1. While there might be a place for group grades, keep the standards in mind. Does a group grade reflect the learning of the individual or the group? In PBL should every student find mastery in what is required? The goal is always yes. For this reason, there must be individual accountability in a project. While students may have different roles, they must be held accountable and the project must be constructed to support all students on the content standards being addressed. Therefore, there really is not one big grade in a project, but instead there are ongoing grades based on all of lessons, activities, formative learning opportunities, and experiences. Some of these might be a group effort but most should really be that individual contribution.

 

  1. PBL unit does not end with the cumulation of the project. All parties should be provided time to reflect and receive feedback on the learning experience. Teachers should get feedback from all participants while looking for ways to edit and revise the project. Did the project provided student with an avenue to learn, understand, and make connections with the standards? Students should also reflect on what the learning meant to them. Did it possibly open new doors to future learning or even a career? Did it bring a new passion and what are ways students can continue to build on this new area of interest? This final assessment for all individuals involved might be the most important part of the PBL experience.

 

  1. If learning is to be meaningful than the ultimate owner of the assessment is the same as the owner of the learning. By now you understand that our students must own the assessment. They must find ways to assess themselves whether that be getting feedback from a teacher, computer guided feedback, critique from a mentor, thoughts from a peer, or reflective metacognition on their own. Teachers must facilitate this process by providing students this important mirror essential to the learning experience. PBL has student ownership at its center and the gift of lifelong learning comes from authentic student empowerment and self-assessment.

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Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Page – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through Jane and the rest of the 2017 calendar is filling fast. Please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

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10 Ideas to Ensure That Project Based Learning is Grounded in Process, Understanding, and 21 Century Skills

 

12Welcome to the second article in a series devoted to grounding PBL in the standards.  As you explore the ideas in this article I do hope you can see that our content standards provide a wonderful opportunity for our students to do, a concept at the foundation of PBL. Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and join me on twitter at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet.  Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 25,000 visitors a month,over 10,000 subscribers, and possibly one of the thousands of educators that have attended my workshops at schools and conferences. Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging, authentic, affordable, and purposeful professional development. Please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

Are you going to Alan November’s BLC in Boston this July (2017)? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you! (Link to Classes at Conference)

  • PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content (1/2 day Workshop)
  • PBL: Learn, Plan, Step, Action….A PBL Deep Dive for Teachers and Leaders (1 day Workshop)

Click here to learn more about BLC17….   I hope to see you in Boston this July!

10 Ideas to Ensure That Project Based Learning is Grounded in Process, Understanding, and 21 Century Skills

In my workshops, I emphasize that one of the building blocks of PBL (Project Based Learning) maintains that a project must be grounded in standards and assessment. In the last post, I covered the first part of what I call PBL’s “Building Block G” (Grounded in Standards) and provided you 15 ways that content is facilitated in PBL. In this post, I would like to look at how process, understanding, and 21 Century Skills are incorporated in standards based PBL.

It is true that students do have the need to learn base curriculums that will focus on those content standards educational agencies and the community of stakeholders have determined are important. These are also those same skills that are many times tested on the standardized test, end of course assessment, and other high stake tests such as ACT, SAT, and AP.  A PBL Unit of Study should focus on these in a way that allows the standards to connect to the real world and other disciplines. These standards must allow for student understanding and the development of soft skills important to future career and college opportunities. As we look at the standards with this lens, it is possible to see how students are now able to go beyond basic content acquisition. In PBL… students are provided the opportunity to do something with the standards.

Having the opportunity to do something with the standards opens the door to the ideas of process, understanding, and 21 century skills. These concepts come in different sizes, flavors, and colors. Typically, the 21st century skills represent the 4 C’s, which include critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. These four areas can be broken down to basic supporting indicators of each skill. By drilling deeper we find that collaboration goes beyond the general header of collaborating by focusing on empathy, sharing, contributing, listening to others, and so much more. Since collaboration is at the heart of PBL it should always be included and assessed. One or more of the other C’s should be intentionally included and assessed. This assessment should be done by the teacher, student, and peers.  These important success skills must connect and have application to the content. As students do the content they must be provided opportunities to practice the important 4 C’s.

The process skills (actually a subset of the 4 C’s) are one of the most important pieces found in the PBL process. I often refer to this as the verbs in the standards. When one reads a standard, words such as analyze, describe, compare, critique, and so many other important verbs become apparent. These verbs have always been in the standards.  Unfortunately, the era of standardized testing demoted these verbs and incorporated the idea that students memorize content. The problem of the standardized era is there was very little time to do something with the content. It is only through the process of doing that real learning occurs. In PBL we must allow student to experience the verbs that come with every standard.

When we take the time to allow students to do the verbs and practice the 21st century skills found in standards, the content standards take on a whole new meaning. Content is no longer just put to memory, it is understood. Connections are made to other disciplines and real world application. So many times, people tell me they do not have time for PBL because they must cover the standards. I think instead we must allow our kids to “do” and allow them to uncover the standards while opening a world of process, understanding, and 21 century skills. Please look at some ideas I am providing that may help educators as they take this journey of “doing with the standards” as part of PBL.

  1. Look at the standards and discover the verbs that allow student to do.
  2. Allow these verbs to became authentic promoting understanding and connections.
  3. Incorporate authentic assessment by providing students the opportunity to demonstrate their learning.
  4. As the verbs are promoted, be sure to provide opportunities to further understand content.
  5. When incorporating the 4C’s or 21st century skills look at or reflect on possible  indicators of each C. Keep in mind that collaborations is much more than just collaboration. It includes empathy, listening, sharing, contributing, and so much more.
  6. Make sure that the 21st century skills are being not just facilitated but assessed by the teacher, students, and peers. Check the BUCK Institute (BIE) for their 21st century skill rubrics.
  7. Become familiar with opportunities to include 21st century skills from P21. This is a wonderful organization that provides educators the resources to learn more about facilitating the 4C’s.
  8. Promote meta cognition toward the verbs, processes, and skills, by providing students the opportunity to reflect, journal, and discuss. One can gain a lot of information from the people at Habits of the Mind. This is a great place to learn about thinking.
  9. Promote a culture of real learning. Discuss with student the importance of owning their learning through self-regulation, choice, passion. Provide them the opportunity that learning really is a verb.
  10. Model real learning by showing students that the teacher does not have every answer. Students must see that adults are still doing and learning. They must experience the magic of collectively learning and doing together. Most of all, they must realize that learning is a life long skill.

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through April and the rest of the 2017 calendar is filling fast. Please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

 

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15 Ideas to Ensure That Project Based Learning is Grounded in Content and Standards

pblcontentYou might know that I am a big proponent of PBL.  I believe that as we work on helping students understand the content standards, PBL provides teachers with the “how”. I do hope you enjoy this content driven article. While I may not have every answer and you may not agree with every statement, I do hope I provide you with something you can reflect on and improvise in a way to make your own. Also, please take a moment to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and join me on twitter at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet.  Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 25,000 visitors a month,over 10,000 subscribers, and possibly one of the thousands of educators that have attended my workshops at schools and conferences. Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging, authentic, affordable, and purposeful professional development. Please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

Are you going to Alan November’s BLC in Boston this July (2017)? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you! (Link to Classes at Conference)

  • PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content (1/2 day Workshop)
  • PBL: Learn, Plan, Step, Action….A PBL Deep Dive for Teachers and Leaders (1 day Workshop)

Click here to learn more about BLC17….   I hope to see you in Boston this July!

15 Ideas to Ensure That Project Based Learning is Grounded in Contentand Standards

It is important that Project Based Learning provides students with wonderful opportunities that allow them to take part in a culture focused on rich activities and experiences. It promotes those important 21st-century skills while balancing this acquisition with important content knowledge and standards. The lessons and activities are intentional, aligned, and mapped to curricular standards. The standards and skills are constantly assessed in a variety of ways involving numerous stakeholders.  Most of all, there is an alignment between standards, skills, and assessment. By incorporating these indicators teachers are ensured that they have provided a project process that is built on standards and proper skill acquisition. The four areas that serve as indicators for grounding PBL in standards are below.

  • Curricular Content and Standards
  • 21st Century Skills
  • Formative and Summative Assessment
  • Intentional and Aligned

In this post, I would like to focus on the curricular content and standards that are one of the foundations of PBL.  In the future, I will focus on the other three indicators. As I travel the country I will often hear teachers state that there is not the time for PBL because of the demands of the curricular content and standards. I understand this concern and the sincere desire that amazing teachers have in trying to prepare students for a successful future.  I do wonder about the difference between knowing standards and understanding standards, but I will save that for a future post.

First, I do agree that students do have the need to learn and understand base curriculum that focuses on important content standards. These are also that same content that are many times tested on the standardized test, end of course assessment, and other high stake tests such as ACT,  SAT, and AP, and duel credit.  PBL, when done right, allows teachers to focus on and facilitate important content and standards. So…, what is PBL done right? Let’s take a moment to investigate and reflect.

I have heard many interpretations of Project Based Learning. Often, I hear a description that suggests that the teacher delivers the content and students follow up with an inspiring and engaging cumulative projects. While this involves student doing a project, I really do not consider this PBL. I call this teaching and then having students do a project. Resources from BIE (BUCK Institute) describe this as a “dessert project”. This comes from the idea that first there is the teaching… and then a sweet project for dessert. While this might be useful and can reinforce some learning, it is not truly Project Based Learning. In fact, I would like to give this practice its own acronym, LBP (Learning Before Projects). I can understand how we as educators might not have time for this encore or dessert style approach. PBL, however, is not an afterthought! PBL is embedded in the learning experience.

In what I feel is true Project Based Learning, the project uncovers and facilitates the learning of significant content. In PBL, there is a balance of learning that occurs throughout the project’s duration. It is this combination that allows for quality and rigor while helping students see the connection of content to the real world and possibly even other disciplines. It is important to understand that the ongoing project itself, through careful teacher planning, must facilitate the learning.  Furthermore, it is essential that a PBL unit is designed with proper scaffolding or mapping that includes both learning activities and effective ongoing assessment. In fact, some of these activities might involve successful and effective existing lessons that a teacher has always used. It is even possible and probable that part of the scaffold will include readings, lectures, and even a worksheet, although it is important to keep a balance using all of Bloom’s levels along with Webb’s DOK. While assessment is varied, there is nothing wrong with including a summative test. After all, our students will be facing these for a while as they continue their educational careers. It is important to note that because the project is used as a base and point of reference throughout the learning, the element of time becomes much more productive than what might occur in LBP (Learning Before Projects). Through this process, the  learning, understanding, and application of  significant content  standards will become an important outcome. PBL provides the rigor of learning new content along with the engagement apparent in a student-centered program based involving deeper learning. The content becomes the “what” while PBL is the “how”. Below you will find fifteen ideas to keep in mind in order to ensure that a PBL unit contains those important content standards.

  1. The entry event or launch should show a relationship to the Driving/Investigative Question promoting a “need to know” of the standards and content.
  2. The Driving/Investigative Question should allow students to uncover the curriculum standards in a student friendly and understandable manner.
  3. Any PBL planning sheets and activities for students should line up with the standards and content in the curricular area being studied and assessed.
  4. The project should be ongoing and made up of activities and lessons that facilitate the learning of significant content.
  5. Formative learning activities and assessments that teach and reinforce the significant content should be mapped and occur throughout the timeline of the project.
  6. While innovative and student-centered learning is encouraged, the scaffolding of the project can still include traditional lecture, tests, and textbook readings that promote significant content. Yes… rich engaging lectures can be used!
  7. The map should include a wide range of Bloom’s levels and deeper learning opportunities.
  8. There should be rubrics developed that evaluate student learning outcomes and they should be aligned with the significant content. Students can even take ownership of rubric development and rubrics should be a tool of student metacognition.
  9. The final project should not only emphasize the content standard verbs (21st century skills) but should show the learning and understanding of significant content.
  10. The final project should demonstrate student understanding and learning of the standards while also answering the project driving question. If a final test is incorporated, it can have some traditional aspects, but should also incorporate a range of performance based assessments.
  11. Since learning is embedded throughout the project, consider the number of standards when determining the length of the project.
  12. Find ways for content to come alive by allowing students to uncover connections to the real world and local community.
  13. Remind students the importance of learning about and understanding the content standards throughout the project. This can be facilitated by providing important formative and summative assessment that ensures accountability. Metacognitive activities should also be employed.
  14. Students should be given multiple opportunities to reflect on learning experiences that amplify the standards. It is this metacognitive experiences that provides opportunities for real learning.
  15. Students must be provided important voice and choice allowing them to own the learning and related content standards. This should involve opportunities for students to select ways they will learn, and how they can demonstrate learning of required content and standards.

The acquisition of content knowledge that has been deemed important by society, and is one of the key functions of education. Project Based Learning honors this by immersing students in the important content standards while providing needed pedagogical foundation. PBL also allows for content to be more then acquired, but also understood and applied. In a world that is seeing content multiply at an exponential rate, it is also important to help students become seekers of knowledge and lifetime self-learners. Along with those necessary 21st century skills, PBL provides the avenue to both build the content foundation while activating the natural passion and ability to learn.

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information something you can use in your school and useful to share with other educators.  As always, I invite you to follow me on twitter (mjgormans). Please give this post a retweet and pass it on to someone who will benefit. To ensure you do not miss a future valuable post or other resource covering PBL, Digital Curriculum, STEM, 21st-century learning, and technology integration please sign up for 21centuryedtech by email or RSS. Have a great week… enjoy the Websites! – Mike (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/

Booking Info – It is time to think about your school or conference needs.  Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference? I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through April and the rest of the 2017 calendar is filling fast. Please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans. Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (mjgormans@gmail.com).

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Pt 2: Project Based Learning … 5 More Misconceptions and Resources to Raise the PBL Bar

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Welcome back…. I had to come up with five more ideas to reflect on as all of you work on incorporating PBL practice in the classroom. It was wonderful seeing all the retweets with over one thousand reads a day from that last PBL post. Before continuing, I would appreciate having you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email and follow me at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network, something that is very magical to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.   – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs, and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Are you going to Alan November’s BLC in Boston this July? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you! (Link to Classes at Conference)

  • PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content
  • PBL: Learn, Plan, Step, Action….A PBL Deep Dive for Teachers and Leaders (1 day Workshop)

Click here to learn more about BLC17….   I hope to see you in Boston this July!

Pt 2: Project Based Learning … 5 More Misconceptions: Plus… 5 More Resources to Raise the PBL Bar

In the last post,  I pointed out five areas of misconception as to what Project Based Learning really is. Those ideas included:

  • I already do PBL by incorporating a project at the end of the unit for learning.
  • I tried PBL and I just did not have time to cover the standards.
  • The problem with PBL is that projects cannot teach the standards.
  • My students just cannot get engaged in PBL.
  • I don’t think I can replace traditional teaching with PBL

You can review these ideas and resources at this link. I have another five PBL ideas I know you will want to take a look at below. Keep in mind that I look forward to the possibility of working with you to bring “Real PBL” to your school! Please enjoy the read and share with others.

  1. Projects in PBL last too long – This can actually be true! On the other hand, there is no rule that states that projects have to go week in and week out. They can actually be as short as a couple weeks. In fact, when starting out, I suggest that teachers begin their adventure with smaller projects. Watch for jumping into a project with too many ideas and the over planning that comes with this. Make sure that the project is based on standards and these standards are carefully aligned from the opening entry event to final assessment. Do not spend significantly more time on a project than might be used in the traditional delivery. If there is the temptation to grow the project, make sure that additional standards are part of the growth. Discover more about project length from Al Solis at this wonderful post on PBL timing.
  2. I cannot design cross-curricular projects because I only teach one subject. – Keep in mind that PBL does not have to cross disciplines, nor does it require teaming. PBL can be part of a single subject classroom. In fact, I often suggest keeping it to one discipline for teachers first starting the PBL path. It is much easier since one can plan on their own and teaming does not have to occur. If possible and appropriate, it is always helpful to show some of the obvious connections to other disciplines and the outside world. If a group of teachers wants to cross curriculums it is important to make the cross meaningful. It is essential to realize the difference between Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Learning. Transdisciplinary uses a PBL approach by providing a driving question that is answered through multidisciplinary studies. This is an amazing approach and a powerful final goal as schools reform pedagogy, learning spaces, and daily schedule. Take a look at this video from the School for Tomorrow to learn more about a Transdisciplinary approach. While it is important to make connections outside of one curriculum, as a teacher learns PBL this can be done within the constraints of a single classroom. As teachers become proficient with the process there will be a natural desire to take the next step as both an individual and a group of educators in a building.
  3. I cannot fill my year with PBL – A year does not have to be filled with PBL, although lessons should begin to take on and reflect a few of the Gold Standards. There are some schools that are built on a total PBL culture, and because of that will have projects from the start to the finish of a school year. Read more about the New Tech Model which incorporates a whole school PBL approach.On the other hand, many schools have teachers practicing PBL and may not see this practice as “door to door” PBL all year. In a traditional school setting, I suggest teachers try possibly one or two projects the first year they try to extend their teaching into a PBL environment. It is important to take small steps and to not feel that these projects have to be large. It may take a while to feel comfortable in handing the control and responsibility of learning to the students. There may even be a need to check student understanding and learning through traditional means. Understand that students are also experiencing a change and could feel some frustration and uneasy feelings as they progress. As a classroom enters a PBL culture there will be a new understanding involving the learning that takes place, even if students are not part of a project every day. The individual elements of PBL will begin to take hold throughout the daily learning experience.
  4. Our school does not have the technology to support PBL – I think it is important to define technology before going any further. Many educators think that the introduction of digital technology with computers and devices began the idea of technology integration in the classroom. We must all be reminded that technology represents the tools for doing! Students have been “doing” in various classrooms throughout and beyond the past one hundred years. They have been using tools such as pencils, paint, markers, rulers, compasses, and so much more. If one looks at the era of Dewey it is apparent that PBL was being incorporated long before the first digital device. I often remind teachers that allowing students to make and create does not necessitate digital technology. What is necessary is for a teacher to understand that real learning and understanding demands that students be a part of an active learning experience where they have a sense of ownership. Keep in mind that today’s digital technology allows for an amplification of this learning experience. It promotes new possibilities and avenues never before available. With this in mind, it must be understood that rich and powerful PBL is, and always has been possible without digital technology. You can learn more at my past article linking four technology indicators to PBL.
  5. PBL does not provide the rigor students need in order to be college and career ready – From my experience, I have actually found the contrary. Rigor should not be defined as “more work”, but instead should involve work that incorporates deep and engaged learning opportunities. Often, true rigor can be difficult to incorporate without authenticity and true student buy-in. Watch students in a classroom that are truly in the “flow of learning” and you will also find rigor. With rigor comes perseverance, student self-regulation, passion, and a deeper understanding of the content. As students are engaged in projects, the never ending inquiry and the sense of creating and solving with a real purpose develops a culture that promotes a drive for success. Perhaps we also need to look at the idea of “College and Career” ready. I think it should be stated the opposite…. “Career and College” ready. If we start thinking of career possibilities, the important 21st-century skills become more apparent. PBL often allows students to discover their passion. This newly found passion will produce a rigor that drives and prepares students for next path, whether it be college or a different amazing post K12 experience. Take a moment to explore this article on rigor from Edutopia. As rigor is truly defined, one can see that PBL is a perfect fit.

Once again you can see, it might just take a few tweaks to do PBL well! Enjoy the links and discover ways to connect even more to Project Based Learning. As you begin the process, take small steps. Projects do not have to go week in and week out. They can actually be a short as a couple days. Keep in mind that PBL does not have to cross disciplines although transdisciplinary projects can be powerful. A year does not have to be filled with PBL, although lessons should begin to take on and reflect a few of the Gold Standards. Allowing students to do… demands the use of technology, although it does not have to be digital. PBL promotes student-centered learning, that allows for passion, which plants the seed for rigor. I will highlight some of these ideas plus more in some upcoming posts.

Please take a moment to share this post with other educators across the world.  Please accept my offer to you,  which includes more postings on educational transformation by subscribing by email or RSS and follow me on Twitter (mjgormans). You will also find a treasure of resources covering 21st-century learning, STEM, PBL, and technology integration for the classroom. Again, take a moment to share this blog and even give it a re-tweet so that other educators can explore ideas in PBL… Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – I have a new and affordable 2-day PBL Workshop! It is time to think about your school or conference needs.   I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. In fact, you might want to learn more about my affordable One day Splash and Two Day Extensive PBL Workshop. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs, and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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