15 Questions to Ask when Creating a STEM Culture in Education

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As you might know, I am very excited about STEM education! In fact, get ready even more STEM posts. For consultations and presentations at schools across the country I have developed these 15 questions you may want to ask as you develop or assess STEM possibilities for students. 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 and STEM. Most of all, thanks for being one of those 30,000+ visitors a month and over 14,000 subscribers. Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district in person or virtually and provide engaging, authentic, practical, and purposeful professional development . I have presented across the country for BIE (BUCK Institute), PBLWorks, Discovery Education, Alan November BLC… and so many more. I bring practicality, common sense, and techniques that allow educators to start the next day in their classroom. My expertise is PBL, STEM, Makers, and technology integration. See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com). Last… please pass this on with a retweet or other social media. You will find buttons at the bottom… it really encourages and supports me in my writing! Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

15 Questions to Ask when Creating a STEM Culture in Education – Michael Gorman

Let me get straight to the 15 questions I consider essential. If you are a new to, or planning for a STEM school, take a look as you plan. Already a STEM school… then use these questions to assess and determine your next journey along an amazing path!

  1. What does STEM mean to the education process and culture of a school for students and educators? So many schools have jumped onto the idea of STEM education involving Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  The integration of these four areas is very important, but what does it mean for a building or district? We must be careful not to amplify these areas of study, while putting less emphasis on other areas of the curriculum. It is important to emphasize the idea of “Why STEM?” as your school or district takes the steps toward  STEM education.  People must understand that STEM will be a way to engage students in all content areas.
  2. Are there any unintended results as we emphasize this idea of STEM? The elements of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are wonderful areas of study and really embrace the idea of future job growth and good salaries. Schools have addressed this idea by extending the STEM acronym with extra letters. We now find STEAM (include the Arts), STREAM (include reading), STREAMIE (include everyone.. I am still waiting to see STREAMIER (more STREAMIE) and STREAMIEST (most STREAMIE)! How big can we make the acronym as we try to embrace the entire curriculum? Does this amplification really serve a purpose or is it all glitter? I think it might be how we define STEM to begin with, which leads to our next question.
  3. How does your building, district, and community define STEM? Before bringing in a STEM program, collectively decide on a definition for STEM. I like to think of STEM as a verb and not just four nouns. It is the process of students doing, thinking and connecting throughout the entire curriculum. This is the subject of a future Blog… so be sure to subscribe! Please note that I stated “a building, district, and community definition of STEM”. Everyone should be able to provide a consensus definition. While this might seem obvious, it is not always the case!
  4. What does a lesson or unit look like when STEM is infused? Is there a process that the school or district is ready to embrace and provide training on? This should involve some type of inquiry method that allows for student exploration while constraining them to mandated curriculum standards. This might include the 5E’s, a Design Method, Deeper Thinking Processes, Project Based Learning, or Problem Based Learning. It must start at the basic lesson level… before expanding to units of study. In many places, it is a classroom transformation.
  5. What does a STEM Classroom look like? I mean this in both a physical and pedagogical way. This does not take a remodel of the school, although large classrooms are nice. How does this physical classroom integrate with the pedagogy? Remember that STEM builds a culture of connected and authentic learning. Before implementation, all educators should visit some STEM classrooms and schools.  If there are not any available, take a look at PBL, Montessori, or Reggio Emilia classrooms. When visiting, spend more time observing students than teachers. Also keep in mind that some technology is needed. Take some time in determining what it is. Order the technology based on lesson needs and standards. Avoid the toys that shine until that need is determined. You will notice your technology dollars being spent much more efficiently!
  6. What modification(s) may be needed to the daily schedule? While in the beginning a school may have dedicated STEM time, a goal is to bring a STEM culture to every classroom… everyday!  That schedule change could be a long term goal and may vary among schools. How can classes and students be shared to allow for trans-disciplinary learning? What subjects can be paired together and allow for team teaching? There maybe a need for longer periods of learning. Perhaps teachers can find some ways to connect even in a traditional schedule. It all takes time, so remember … small steps.
  7. How do we get ready for assessment in STEM? I like to say that STEM assessment goes beyond the standardized test. As we use an inquiry and collaborative approach it is important to make sure all students are learning content. How do we assess not just the nouns, but also the verbs in our standards? Do we have rubrics that incorporate the 4C’s and other soft skills? I see what I call “STEMie” lessons that are based on few standards and with no assessment. How do we go beyond this? When we are intentional with standards and assessment, the standardized test will be satisfied.
  8. What qualities do STEM students have upon graduation at the different levels in education? I often say that we are not preparing students for the specific skills of a career, but rather the universal skills needed to work in any career. We need to determine these skills and qualities as as we build our STEM programs. How do we build these attributes into lessons and units and also into assessment, where the appropriate tools must be determined? As we think of careers, a STEM program must help students determine a career pathway and find passions that engage them.
  9. What are a building or district’s community connections for STEM?  Keep in mind that every community is different. The community outside the school’s walls is important for authentic learning. A STEM school must look for connections  that make learning relevant for students. Databases can be created to identify professionals, institutions, business, industry, and government entities that can be partners for real world learning. These partnerships should be a two way street. The real benefactors will be your students!
  10. How does a school or district sustain the STEM momentum?  All initiatives start out with a lot of energy. Many times this begins with particular groups and individuals. How do we place this ownership with the entire institution? There may need to be some ongoing in-service along with a retelling of the story. Keep in mind that the goal is to build a STEM culture!
  11. What does STEM look like in every classroom? We must think of STEM as not a subject but a process. How does it fit into Social Studies as we study culture and society. Is there a design process in the teaching of writing in the Language Arts Classroom? STEM really connects to Bloom’s upper levels of thinking. This happens in every subject.
  12. How are we developing thinking in both the right and left brain? So much of STEM is thought of in the left brain. It is the right brain that allows for thinking that engages innovation found in the arts. Music is a type of code just waiting for the influence of that right brain. Daniel Pink has often said we need to develop a whole new mind!
  13. How can we be certain that college/career readiness is part of the STEM program? Once again note the word “readiness”. This implies our students are ready with both the skills and the passion. How does one industry have multiple occupations that rely on STEM thinking? We must be persistent at integrating these ideas into every lesson.
  14. How do we make our STEM process… not just another initiative? As we all know education has a way of adopting new initiatives in a hyper intensive way. There must be ways to think how STEM thinking fits into programs already in place. It could be PBL, Deeper Learning, SEL, or skills needed for that 21st Century graduate. Spend time on doing those important cross-walks between current district programs. Make it one program, I call it… do what is best for students!
  15. How do we celebrate our STEM successes? This should be part of the action plan. It should be on the timeline and include important benchmarks along the way that have been accomplished. Start celebrating early and keep it going. Take time to honor educators, students, mentors, parents, and community agencies. Make it part of a STEM night, webpage, news release, student project, campaign, multimedia event, and remember to make sure it happens in individual classrooms along with the entire building/district. This goes along way in building an sustainable STEM culture. Enjoy the ride!

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. I also have some great ways to make amazing PD happen virtually. Please contact me (mjgormans@gmail.com) soon if you have an interest. My 202 calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January and 2022! Look for contact information at the Booking Site. Last… please pass this on with a retweet or other social media. You will find buttons at the bottom… it really encourages and supports me in my writing! Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech)

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Part Two… Transforming STEM Education from Noun to Verb… 15 Steps

Read about my 15 ways you can turn STEM from a noun to a verb!

Welcome to the second of two articles as I relate the importance of making sure STEM is considered a verb. The first post involved the “why”, and this second post provides 15 ideas for the “how”. There are a lot of definitions that relate to STEM education usually in regards to the nouns including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.. As I reflect on my observation of STEM practice in my travels across the country I have become more convinced that STEM is a verb, and not just a set of nouns. In fact, STEM action is something all content areas can embrace as they engage students in authentic learning. I have some great posts coming your way involving PBL and STEM. Most of all, thanks for being one of those 30,000+ visitors a month and over 14,000 subscribers.

Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging, authentic, practical, and purposeful professional development . I can also make it happen online! See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com).  Last, 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 great information coming your way this school year…So Sign Up Now and please pass this on with a retweet!   – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part Two… Transforming STEM Education from a Noun to a Verb… 15 Steps

I do hope you enjoyed that first post which I related the reasons “why” I believe that STEM must be considered a verb. I also included the necessary idea that STEM really is a part of all content areas. Please feel free to take a look if you missed it. Now that we understand the “why” it is important to look at the next steps that allow us to implement the “how” as we build a stem school culture. I suggest taking a look at these steps (ideas) and use them as you either build and/or vet your STEM culture of learning.  I hope you notice each one even starts with a verb. Perhaps that will help you as you complete an action plan. Please  feel free to share with others…  and enjoy your STEM journey!

  1. Think of STEM as a verb, not a noun. What are the skills that make up that STEM-based occupation? It can be seen that these skills not only include the Four C’s, but also components of each C.
  2. Create a clear vision and mission for STEM in the school or district. Make sure this definition is understood by everyone including those educators that may not think of themselves as STEM.
  3. Incorporate STEM thinking into lessons in all content areas. This STEM thinking includes the ability to problem solve, authentically learn, think in critical ways, invent, produce, persevere, collaborate, empathize, and design.
  4. Emphasize the skills that are needed in those future careers, not the career itself. While it is beneficial to learn about different careers, it is important to note that these will change and students may go through multiple careers. Many of the important skills will remain the same.
  5. Integrate digital technology in STEM when appropriate, and it is able to amplify the standard. An example might be to teach with real protractors before using a digital protractor.
  6. Incorporate PBL (Project Based Learning) and 5E lessons into  STEM instructional experiences.  These methods can provide the process for student ownership, engagement, and authenticity.
  7. Look outside of the classroom to incorporate STEM as an authentic learning experience. Use the community, country, and world to allow students to contribute  while allowing them to see  real world connections to content and skills being taught.
  8. Facilitate and assess (intentionally) not just content, but also the STEM (21st century and beyond) skills. Find, or build rubrics, that address the 21st-century skills which include the 4 C’s of Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. Understand that each of these C’s includes indicators and subsets that can be assessed. An example might be that  empathy is a part of collaboration or active listening is part of communication.
  9. Practice a STEM culture of learning… make sure that students are doing. This doing must include not only hands-on activities but also important metacognition. Students must not only do, but also think about what they are doing (which should be connected to the standards). Find ways to make this thinking visible. It is only when students do… and then think, that real learning takes place.
  10. Step beyond STEM one time activities and making. Build a STEM culture that builds inquiry, is supported by authenticity, promotes rigor, and allows for student self-regulation and  ownership of learning. Always keep the necessary curricular standards and skills at the forefront of STEM.
  11. Allow for student ownership while promoting real inquiry. Provide ways for students questions and inquiry, while intentionally building specific habits and literacy skills to find answers.
  12. Promote a culture of focused and engaging rigor allowing for student to face hurdles and eventually achieve satisfaction and success.
  13. Look outside your school day and find programs that students are excited about at home and after-school. Develop ways to bring these into the instructional day while mapping to curricular standards.
  14. Amplify with digital devices when appropriate, plan first before purchasing STEM technology equipment, and embrace those non-technology items that allow students to make.
  15. Allow for student voice and choice that align with both 21century skills and curricular standards in order to provide student engagement, inquiry, and purpose.

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? Perhaps you would like to set up a virtual online PD? In fact, I have a STEM is a Verb Session and Workshop I can bring to your location or online. 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 do have some dates still open in 2021! Email me at mjgormans@gmail.com or look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part One… Transforming STEM Education from Noun to Verb… STEM in all Areas

Putting important action and engagement in STEM across the curriculum!

Welcome to the first of two articles as I relate the importance of making sure STEM is considered a verb. The first post involves the “why”, and the second post provides 15 ideas for the “how”. There are a lot of definitions in regards to STEM education usually in regards to the nouns including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.. As I reflect on my observation of STEM practice in my travels across the country I have become more convinced that STEM is a verb, and not just a set of nouns. In fact, STEM action is something all content areas can embrace as they engage students in authentic learning. I have some great posts coming your way involving PBL and STEM. Most of all, thanks for being one of those 30,000+ visitors a month and over 14,000 subscribers.

Also, remember that I can come to your conference or school district and provide engaging, authentic, practical, and purposeful professional development . Perhap you would like some engaging and teacher centered online PD instead… I can make that happen. See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com).  Last, 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 great information! Sign Up Now and please pass this on with a retweet!   – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Part One… Transforming STEM Education from a Noun to a Verb… STEM in all Areas

“We can have facts without thinking but we cannot have thinking without facts.”  – John Dewey

Let’s take a moment and investigate the STEM acronym, after-all it is being used quite a bit across the United States and the world. Often we hear the content areas; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math as being the basis of STEM. While this is a wonderful collection of nouns that can be used to put together a cross-curricular, transdisciplinary, or project based learning unit of study; it seems to leave out many of the other disciplines through this content definition. By focusing just on these four areas we are losing the powerful and authentic learning opportunities that STEM thinking can bring to the classroom.  In fact, we are also leaving some of the most important teachers from other subject areas  out of the equation, or the limited definition does not make them feel a part of an exciting possibility!  Perhaps that is why we see schools and districts adopting STEAM (infuse the arts), and STREAM (add on some Reading. As we see these new models perhaps we should turn it into STREAMIE (include everyone), from there we can go to STREAMIER and STREAMIEST! Better yet, how about STREAMING… wow… it’s a verb! While the idea could make everyone smile, let’s take a look at what STEM might and could actually look like if we facilitated and promoted and all-inclusive subject area model. Getting the entire school to embrace STEM means we need to go outside the traditional STEM content and look at important verbs that are a part of all subjects.

I have often stated that one could look at STEM as the content and PBL as the process, but even in this mode of thinking, it seems to leave out important content. Perhaps it is important to think of STEM as a verb and not a noun. What if all disciplines viewed STEM as a thinking process?  This is what many true STEM leaders have been promoting. Yet many programs and initiatives focus on STEM as a noun. It could be due to the many logos we see promoting the four disciplines. John Dewey stated:

“We can have facts without thinking but we cannot have thinking without facts.”  

Think for a second of not the stated STEM disciplines, but the skills and thought process it takes to work within a STEM content area. Consider the skills that must be learned for an eventual career, or multiple careers. The action found in the STEM process allows students to practice and develop the ability to problem solve, authentically learn, think in critical ways, invent, produce, persevere, collaborate, empathize, and design.  In doing so, the nouns of STEM work with the important acts of doing and thought. This STEM style thinking opens up a whole new world of possibilities to facts! The facts in the curriculum become real and understandable, opening up a world of real learning to students.

With this mind, it is possible to include all subject areas including language arts, social studies, the fine arts, the practical arts, foreign language, business, plus so much more! Every subject should own STEM thinking! In fact, this style of metacognition becomes even more important as teachers begin to infuse grit and rigor into their lesson plans. Activities that incorporate such thinking build a strong and necessary foundation for project-based learning and transdisciplinary opportunities. In fact, I ran across a Discovery Education statement that suggested STEM as “Students and Teachers Energizing Minds”.  Wow, verbs that allow students to do can be powerful! All of us have to step out of the STEM nouns and find a way to bring the verbs of STEM to every student!

Join me in the next post as I provide 15 Ideas to Transform STEM Thinking from Nouns To Verbs

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? In fact, I have a STEM is a Verb Session and Workshop I can bring to your location. It can also be done in a virtual setting! 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 do have some dates open for 2021. Email me at mjgormans@gmail.com or check out the contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part 8… Public Product: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

Welcome to the seventh in a series of posts regarding Blending the PBL Gold Standards. I am very excited to share ideas relating to PBL and Blended/eLearning as it relates to this Blog’s topic of the PBL Public Product. As I reflect, PBL has always been blended. Our challenge is… how to break down the classroom walls even more with the technology we have today. In this series, I am investigating each of the PBLWorks Gold Standards. I have been providing a short explanation and some free resources examples for each of the Gold Standards! Keep in mind that you may want to start small. That might include looking at a past project, or even a large multi-step lesson through the lens of the Gold Standards and free Blended/eLearning resources. The Gold Standards from PBLWorks are posted in the picture above. Enjoy this wonderful journey of learning. 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 important to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet with tools at bottom.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  Enjoy your PBL Journey! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)\

Part 8… Public Product: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

The Public Product must be authentic and meaningful in order to provide real engagement to students. PBL provides students that opportunity to create a public product that that allows for real world applications, purpose, student relevance, and an audience beyond their classroom walls. In the world of blended learning there are so many possibilities to bring the community and public into the making and presenting of that final product. With this in mind it is important to look at the Public Product as a creation from an authentic learning experience. It is not just the product that is public. Let’s take a closer look:

1. The Product Must Be True to the World – Learning must have meaning which extends to the real world, outside the walls of the brick and mortar classroom. Today’s technology and blended learning possibilities allow students to interact with the larger community, visit another continent, and even travel across the solar system. Curricular concepts and standards can become real and filled with meaning. How public can you make the learning experience? How can that final product make a difference to the students’ world?


2. The Product Must be Purposeful – PBL provides students a reason, allowing students to work on purposeful products that can make a difference to others. The purpose is amplified by seeing a real world difference because of the product. The final public product is the process and the final results. It not only provides a reason and purpose because of its impact on the world outside the classroom walls. This impact might be a physical improvement, an innovation, a piece of culture and beauty, an awareness campaign, or something that just makes community life more enjoyable. It does not always have to solve a problem. Students begin to see why they are doing and learning, and are provided the opportunity to contribute to a greater community. As students envision the product and its results… it must really answer the… So What?


3. The Product Must Be Relevant to the Here and Now – A common question from students is often, “Why do we need to learn this?” The typical answer is often, “Because you will need it someday. A public product might put them in the middle of saving a building, helping the less fortunate, communicating with a culture across the world, creating a museum, writing books for younger children, or authoring an article for Wikipedia. I am sure you can see how the blended experience makes this all the more possible. When students can see that their product will make a difference, a whole new deeper learning results. They may actually be able to tell their parents what they learned in school today, and more importantly describe what they did! Best of all, they might be able to pull it up on their computer screen and show a relative or friend over a thousand miles away.

4. The Product Must Include Real Audience and Mentors – A classroom is filled with students and a teacher and their interaction can be powerful. PBL goes beyond this and promotes the idea of the classroom being the entire world. Creating the product should provide students an authentic audience beyond their classroom as part of the process. This type of product promotes rigor and quality work because students realize their work is to be on display and will be viewed by more than their teacher and peers. It could be another classroom or better yet the world… whether it is real or virtual. Audience should also be an ongoing part of creating the product by using mentors and experts. This capability can exist in the classroom, or even online in a blended experience using proper procedures and protocols found in the school AUP.

Possible Public Products: As you can see the Product must be public, but also the process of its creation must transcend the classroom walls. Let me provide some ideas for making that final product public. I will look at this using a filter for blended learning. Realize that the final public product does not have to be a student presentation for some kind of panel. It can be a website, online newsletter, virtual magazine, video, 3D prototype, interactive map, nonlinear presentation, campaign, Zoom conference, makers invention, infographic, online gallery, and so much more. I am sure your students will have ideas. Give them ownership!

Resources for Public Product in PBL  

I am including just a small set of resources that might help you develop that public product in PBL as you blend the possibilities. Keep in mind that it really does work well with student voice and choice. There are only five, and as you read them, think of ways you can take these ideas and blend them with technology. These resources provide possibilities that might be an entire PBL, or just a learning activity inside a PBL. My primary focus was to find a few resources that might allow for some public product possibilities across a wide range of subjects. I realize there are so much more… but that will be for a later Blog or Book!

iEARN: Explore this global site crossing all disciplines promoting authentic class to class collaboration throughout the world. It also provides connection to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Not only will you have a public product, but the whole process will be public. Remember to also use your Learning Management System for its capabilities and always check you school AUP before putting students online.

PBLWorks: – Discover a wonderful article from one of the best, John Larmer, all about what a final PBL public project might look like to show a demonstration of learning. As you read this think of ways that you might blend these possibilities.

Journey North – Explore some wonderful collaborative PBL possibilities based on seasons and nature. Students will publish results and look to see what other classes have contributed. There are numerous projects that are engaging and content filled. This will also be a great opportunity to teach some of those digital citizenship skills and also look over your school AUP.

Common Sense Education Best Tech Creation Tools – Encourage your students to publish in the format that excites them. Keep in mind that you do not need to know how to use the tools… let your students own that. You will want to explore ways to make the student productions public. These are all peer reviewed. Remember to also use your Learning Management System for its capabilities and always check you school AUP before putting students online.

Thoughtful Learning – Take a look at these 38 digital product ideas and the tools with links for may of them. You will find out how creative your students can really be. Be sure to click on some of the links. You might even want to give your students this list. It will also be important to ask them how they will make that project public. Remember to also use your Learning Management System for its capabilities and always check you school AUP before putting students online.

Reflection on Public Product

As you can see, a public product based on an authentic learning experience is of prime importance when designing and planning Project Based Learning for students at any level. Through this practice students can see real world application that provides meaning. They are involved in a purpose that facilitates engagement and passion. They interact with an audience and mentors providing a gateway that employs rigor and quality work. Students are also able to see connections between disciplines allowing them to see importance of all content and disciplines. Best of all, they have the opportunity to see their work in public making some kind of difference for others. It really allows learning to come alive!

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom in another practical workshop. All of these and more can also be built into a 1/2 day or full day session, and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021

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Teacher Appreciation Week 2021…It’s True…  I Teach Because I Can’t Do Anything Else

“To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.” ― John Dewey

it is especially important this years to say… Happy 2021 Teacher Appreciation Week!  The amazing work that teachers have been doing at meeting student needs has really been apparent during this past year. Keep in mind that educators have been doing this all along! As I extend my best wishes to all educators I wish to share with you one of my favorite annual  postings. 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. Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 30,000 visitors a month and over 14,000 subscribers.  I would appreciate it if you pass this special post on to others through email , your blog, school newsletter, or a retweet!  Help me honor all of those amazing educators!

Sign up and retweet… – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! i also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom. These can also be builts into a 1/2 day or full day session and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your winter,spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021. You can also contact me at mjgormans@gmail.com. Happy holidays!

Teacher Appreciation Week 2021…It’s True…  I Teach Because I Can’t Do Anything Else! (21centuryedtech.wordpress.com)

OK, so it’s true! I have spent  over 42 years in education because I cannot do anything else! Today, I travel around the country providing professional development involving all sorts of exciting educational possibilities. In those school districts I do my best to provide learning experiences for students and educators just as I have always done in the classroom. The idea of not being able to do anything else actually is something I have learned in the last ten years,  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! I would really appreciate you taking the time to share!  Most of all enjoy the week and know that you are appreciated! – Mike Gorman

“To find out what one is fitted to do, and to secure an opportunity to do it, is the key to happiness.” ― John Dewey

The List

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. I can’t work as a cook or chef because while I appreciate the art in a great meal, I enjoy even more finding just the right ingredients that allow for a child’s success.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Historical Look – Both Political and Educational leaders started discussions for a day to honor our teachers in 1944.  Finally in 1953, Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim National Teachers’ Day. Remember this is a day to not just recognize teachers of today… but all of those teachers that made such an impact in all of our educations.

Quick Notes – Opportunities and resources you may want to be aware of for Teacher Appreciation Week. Teacher Appreciation Week is May 3 – 7, 2021

PTO Teacher Appreciation Resources – Popular ideas, printables, clip art, and planning tools to help you celebrate your teachers in May (and all throughout the year).

7 Meaningful Ways to to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week – Take a look at these ideas and take a moment to recognize those special teachers.

National PTA  – Join National PTA  in saying “Thank You” during Teacher Appreciation Week, .

Google Teacher Appreciation Page – A great page filled with new resources for 2020!

Donors Choose – Check out these donation possibilities that will help teachers as they help students.

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! i also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom. These can also be builts into a 1/2 day or full day session and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your winter,spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021. You can also contact me at mjgormans@gmail.com. Happy holidays!

A  big shout out to all  educators on a very special week!  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)

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Part 7… Critique and Revision: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

Welcome to the seventh in a series of posts regarding Blending the PBL Gold Standards. I am very excited to share ideas relating to PBL and Blended/eLearning as it relates to this Blog’s topic of Student Critique and Revision. As I reflect, PBL has always been blended. Our challenge is… how to break down the classroom walls even more with the technology we have today. In this series, I am investigating each of the PBLWorks Gold Standards. I have been providing a short explanation and some free resources examples for each of the Gold Standards! Keep in mind that you may want to start small. That might include looking at a past project, or even a large multi-step lesson through the lens of the Gold Standards and free Blended/eLearning resources. The Gold Standards from PBLWorks are posted in the picture above. Enjoy this wonderful journey of learning. 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 important to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet with tools at bottom.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  Enjoy your PBL Journey! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)\

Part 7… Critique and Revision: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

It is often said that a cycle of authentic learning demands that students reflect, critique, and revise. In the last last blog I presented the important idea of reflection and how it is integral to the learning process. This is a step that so many time educators run out of time to do because they have to get to the next standard. We must remember that John Dewey Quote:

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”

We must remember that reflection is an important element, but learning does not stop at this point. It is important to complete the cycle and continue with a critique of our learning and follow that with revising our thoughts. In this way, new understanding of the content is created. Let’s take a closer look.

Critique: It is important that students learn about, and have, the opportunity to critique. This can be a critique of a learning experience, project, lesson, concept, proposal, publication, etc. This critique involves a reflection and thorough inspection of the experience. Critique must be ongoing through out the project. It must involve peers, mentors, and teacher. Most important, it must involve the individual student. A part of this critique is a flow of constant inquiry, answers, and new questions. It should also include students in a collaborative setting. In the is way, they can see and understand learning experience from other’s perspectives. At the same time, it builds a culture of providing and accepting kind and meaningful feedback. This deepens the learning opportunity and builds out those important 4 C’s and the related success and career skills. It also allows for students to recognize and accept those hurdles that come up in their educational journey, while also providing an opportunity for celebration when success is found. Most of all, it opens the door to the next segment of this important cycle of learning.

Revision: Educators often ponder the idea of instilling rigor in the learning experience. How do they ensure that student experience deep and understandable learning while producing high quality work? The important act of reflecting and critiquing must be followed by revision. As students question, they must come up with answers that they act upon. These answers provide an opportunity to improve their understanding, or a product they are working on. Once again, this revision must be owned by the students and promoted through both individual persistence and group interaction. The classroom learning and production becomes more then a “do it… hand it in… and done”, but embraces the idea that learning and doing are an iterative process. This iteration includes reflection, critique, and revision and promotes the idea of life long learning.

Ways to Promote Critique and Revision in the Classroom

  1. Promote a culture of rigor by showing the importance of reflecting, critiquing, and revising. Provide modeling and bring in examples found in real life.
  2. Teach students that hurdles along the way are learning opportunities and help create better products and understanding.
  3. Set benchmarks and promote formative assessment that involves individual, peers, mentors, and teacher.
  4. Support kind yet specific and meaningful feedback along with an openness to critique. This must be modeled and students must be provided expectations which means rubrics are provided throughout the project and may even allow student input. Rubrics should be both content and skill driven.
  5. Provide protocols that include opportunities to reflect, critique, and revise learning and work. This might be a student gallery walk or a making thinking visible session such as Think Pair Share. How might some of these be done online?

Resources for Critique and Revision in PBL with Blended Opportunities  

I am including just a small set of resources that might help you develop critique and revision resources in PBL as you blend the possibilities. There are only five, and as you read them, think of ways you can take these ideas and blend them with technology. These resources provide possibilities that might be an entire PBL, just a learning activity inside a PBL, or possibly an online resource to help you better facilitate this gold standard. My primary focus was to find a few resources that might allow for some real student critique and revision across a wide range of subjects. Check out the links within the links… along with the sub links I provided. I realize there are so much more… but that will be for a later Blog or Book!

Better Lesson: – This article provides information on the Gallery Walk protocol including ways to promote it in the Blended Learning environment. Do you want more ideas on using the Gallery Walk Protocol in the classroom? Check out this video for some great possibilities.


New Tech CF: Discover a protocol that provides students a ways to critique their work and projects with an emphasis on reflection, critique, and revision
provided by the amazing New Tech School Network. You can learn more about the Critical Friends (Tuning Protocol) from this video at PBLWorks.

National School Reform Website – Discover a rich collection of learning protocols that can be used with teachers and with students. Remember that protocols must be strictly followed in order to work best. There are a lot to pick from. As you explore, think of how these might be used in an online environment. How might a Zoom Breakout Room, Google Slides, or Learning Management System Discussion Board work in?

Making Think Visible from Project Zero (Links to an external site.) – These are a group of metacognitive group protocols and activities that promote critical thinking through reflection, revision, and critique. They are powerful and will lead to student ownership of education with deeper learning and understanding. As you explore consider ways these could be brought into the online environment. I especially like this virtual look at Making Thinking Visible by John Spencer. You may want to spend more then a moment at these wonderful sites.

Common Sense Media Collaborative Tools – One of my favorite places to find peer reviewed education tools. With this link you will land on some tools that promote student collaboration and have possibilities to focus on reflection, critique, and revision. It is all about how the teacher sets it up. You can see an example for the free applications, Padlet and Google Slides from the article The Art of Education Digital Critique . Also, consider your LMS and always check your school Acceptable Use Policy before using with students.

Reflection on Critique and Revision

As you can see, the cycle of reflection, critique, and revision are an important part of the learning experience and critical to the PBL Classroom. It involves a formative process with constant assessment from peers, teachers, mentors, and the individual. As a student goes through setbacks and successes there is a growth, learning. quality work, engagement, rigor, and excitement, much like arriving at the next level of a video game. Students learn to produce quality products by working through cycles of teacher, peer, and self-critique. This iteration of learning turns into a flow while promoting and facilitating perseverance. Best of all, students conquer higher level content, while building on skills that will serve them in future schooling, the job place, and a wonderful future of life-long learning.

Next Post: Critique and Revision, PBL and the Blended Classroom… Sign Up Now!

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom in another practical workshop. All of these and more can also be built into a 1/2 day or full day session, and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021

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Part 6… Reflection and Metacognition: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

Welcome to the sixth in a series of posts regarding Blending the PBL Gold Standards. I am very excited to share ideas relating to PBL and Blended/eLearning as it relates to this Blog’s topic of Student Reflection and Metacognition. As I reflect, PBL has always been blended. Our challenge is… how to break down the classroom walls even more with the technology we have today. In this series, I am investigating each of the PBLWorks Gold Standards. I have been providing a short explanation and some free resources examples for each of the Gold Standards! Keep in mind that you may want to start small. That might include looking at a past project, or even a large multi-step lesson through the lens of the Gold Standards and free Blended/eLearning resources. The Gold Standards from PBLWorks are posted in the picture above. Enjoy this wonderful journey of learning. 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 important to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet with tools at bottom.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  Enjoy your PBL Journey! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)\

Part 6… Reflection and Metacognition: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

You may have noticed that I have added Metacognition to Reflection. I feel these two concepts go together. Reflection must be meaningful and intentional providing students the opportunity top think about their thinking in relationship to the content and success skills that are part of the learning experience. John Dewey said it best in the following quote:

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Project Based Learning is so much more then covering content though lecture and reading, followed by doing a project to show what one has learned. The project is the vehicle of reflection and metacognition allowing the students to get to a final destination with new and deeper learning as a reward. That final destination is a project that has been built along a highway filled with on and off ramps allowing for experiences filled with individual and collaborative investigation, reflection, research, experimentation, inquiry, metacognition, and authentic learning, These ramps have been built intentionally by the teachers to provide that important reflection and metacognition that will allow the project to be so much more than a noun, but  also a verb built on action and process. Learning really is a process. Let’s take a closer look at Reflection and Metacognition in PBL.

Reflection and Metacognition (Thinking about Thinking) – Often  the two terms metacognition and thinking are used together to demonstrate the need for students to be aware and reflective in their learning. Together these concepts allow for a deeper learning by asking students to reflect, think, critique, and apply learning. So many times, in a rush to get to the next content objective, education fails to allow students to focus on their learning. In PBL this happens at the entry event, through out middle project cycle of learning, and at the close of the project. Perhaps one of the most important post reflections might be… what can I now do with my learning?  It is important that students have that opportunity to think about thinking. Through this… learning is not the end product, but an important process, one that will last a lifetime. I will take a moment to dig a little deeper.


Emphasis on Process over Product (Doing) – PBL emphasizes the importance of the journey and not so much the destination. While the final product can be a wonderful and exciting occurrence, the journey is filled with important contents standards, skills, experiences, and intellectual growth. As John Dewey reminds educators, it really is the doing. There is an emphasis on the verbs found in the standards highlighting Bloom’s higher orders of process. It not just what one learned in school today… it is what one did and reflected on while building a type of internal self knowledge. Before looking at resources let me share one more Dewey quote. Please take a moment to reflect on it.

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”

Resources for Reflection and Metacognition in PBL with Blended Opportunities  

I am including just a small set of resources that might help you develop reflection and metacognition in PBL as you blend the possibilities. There are only five, and as you read them, think of ways you can take these ideas and blend them with technology. These resources provide possibilities that might be an entire PBL, just a learning activity inside a PBL, or possibly an online resource to help you better facilitate this gold standard. My primary focus was to find a few resources that might allow for some real student reflection and metacognition across a wide range of subjects. Check out the links within the links… along with the sub links I provided. I realize there are so much more… but that will be for a later Blog or Book!

Making Thinking Visible: – This is a site from Harvard’s Project Zero that provides routines to promote thinking and understanding. These concepts can be expanded into the Blended environment. You may want to visit this site that provides some of these routines in a virtual kind of way. You may want to look at this site that provides tech apps that work with different routines, or this other site that provides a look at Google Slides and Routines. After looking at all of this, I am sure you will see your thinking into some great possibilities.

Institute for Habits of the Mind: – This is a resource filled with multiple ideas that promote student cognition to promote deeper understanding. Check out their many resources including one of my favorite rubrics, be sure to take a look! How might this rubric be incorporated as virtual exits tickets, online self assessment, and classroom online discussions?

Kidblog:  – Explore this student blogging tool made just for students. Primary students may start with one class blog that the teacher oversees and uploads information to. There are many other blogging sites, make sure you do get school and parent approval if needed. Again, respect privacy and check your school AUP (Acceptable Use Policy)

SRI – Protocols:  – Protocols are powerful and when applied to learning and collaboration deeper learning becomes possible. Explore all the possibilities in this website, and think about ways to blend them online. How might you use ZOOM, Hangouts, Google Docs, Padlet, and discussions to bring these protocols into the virtual world? Be sure to start with just a few. I am providing this wonderful article from Edutopia to provide an example in this unique style of blended thinking. Do you want something simple like just using a Chat Room? Check out this Edutopia article? What might you come up with?

Virtual Discussion Modules: – Take your discussion and discover ways to blend it online to make it both powerful and archived for further learning. This reading might give you new ways to use the discussion feature in your LMS and provide students reflection and metacognition time.

Reflection on Student Reflection and Metacognition

I heard someone once state that learning does not happen until we think and reflect on our learning. Providing the student with the time to do this might be the most important part of their education. As one can see Project Based Learning is very intentional in providing the student with time for reflection and metacognition.. The teacher truly is a designer, facilitator, and activator allowing students to see their thinking, along with the thinking of others. There is a constant formative process allowing students to progress through metacognition, iterative cycles, and deeper and deeper learning experiences. It is an exciting journey for both teachers and students, one where each side trip adds to the entire process. The destination is bound to be filled with a celebration of learning and new possibilities!

Next Post: Critique and Revision, PBL and the Blended Classroom… Sign Up Now!

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom in another practical workshop. All of these and more can also be built into a 1/2 day or full day session, and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021

Leave a comment

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Part 5… Student Voice: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

Welcome to the fifth in a series of posts regarding Blending the PBL Gold Standards. I am very excited to share ideas relating to PBL and Blended/eLearning as it relates to this Blog’s topic of Student Voice and Choice. As I reflect, PBL has always been blended. Our challenge is… how to break down the classroom walls even more with the technology we have today. In this series, I am investigating each of the PBLWorks Gold Standards. I have been providing a short explanation and some free resources examples for each of the Gold Standards! Keep in mind that you may want to start small. That might include looking at a past project, or even a large multi-step lesson through the lens of the Gold Standards and free Blended/eLearning resources. The Gold Standards from PBLWorks are posted in the picture above. Enjoy this wonderful journey of learning. 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 important to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet with tools at bottom.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  Enjoy your PBL Journey! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. I have a number of distance interactive workshops that can be made to fit your schedule. Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021.

Part 5… Student Voice and Choice: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources by Michael Gorman at 21centuryedtech

One of the most powerful attributes of Project Based Learning is that it is both student centered and driven. The student autonomy may come in varying degrees depending on student age, student experience with PBL, and teacher experience and comfort in both facilitating and activating a PBL learning experience. PBL at its most powerful stage is a deep learning experience allowing students to self-regulate and gain insight into their own learning process. PBL employs student ownership, voice and choice, personalized and relevant experiences, and a culture of learning that can drive
engagement, rigor, and student success.

1. Ownership (Self-Regulated)
2. Personalized (Student Voice)
3. Student Driven Culture


Ownership (Self Regulated) – A goal of PBL is for the student to gain ownership of the learning and the process associated with learning. In a true PBL environment the teachers is a partner that not just facilitates, but activates this process. The goal is
learning that becomes self-regulated by the student. The amount of ownership will depend on student maturity, comfort, and past experience with PBL. The teacher must also have a comfort level built on experience in the PBL classroom. The steps from
teacher controlled to student autonomy may come in increments,, and teachers should feel free to begin at the bottom of the stairs when they first implement. As students begin to own the learning a new classroom synergy becomes evident.
Personalized (Student Voice) – A student centered learning environment allows student to choose how to learn, within given parameters, that can support essential content and skills. This personalized ownership begins with giving students voice and choice in certain areas, eventually growing to a large part of the process as comfort levels and experience rises. When students have a voice and choice there is an exciting empowerment which leads to wonderful engagement. This voice and choice may be a say in classroom operations, creation of contracts, choosing tools to demonstrate learning, and even deciding on an interest within the boundaries of the standards. The teacher in a PBL classroom provides differentiation using grouping, roles, one on one conversations during group work time, and tasks in the scaffold. At the highest levels of PBL students become familiar with their strength and strategies in learning. Having the ability to personalize the learning experience students can often see relevance of the why and what they are learning. They are able to take with them an important skill of lifelong learning which will serve them beyond their formal schooling.
Student Driven Culture – A student centered PBL classroom and related project portrays a unique and powerful culture that embraces and fosters learning. Students learn what it means to be a member of a Personal Learning Community. The classroom
is a place of opportunity, wonder, expression, excitement, and knowledge. Critique and revision by individuals and peers are a common place and performed in a kind, caring, and effective manner. Norms are established and protocols are honored. The idea of process and formative learning trumps content acquisition, although content is still rich and becomes more vibrant. Learning is student regulated. The students in a true PBL classroom genuinely display an understanding that they really do own their learning.

Resources for Authenticity, PBL, and Blended Learning  

I am including just a small set of resources that might help you develop student voice and choice in PBL as you blend the possibilities. There are only five, and as you read them, think of ways you can take these ideas and blend them with technology. These resources provide possibilities that might be an entire PBL, or just a learning activity inside a PBL. My primary focus was to find a few resources that might allow for some real student voice and choice across a wide range of subjects. I realize there are so much more… but that will be for a later Blog or Book!

Pedagogy Wheel: This wheels provides a lot of technology tools that students might be able to use to choose a way to publish their answers to the DQ while demonstrating their learning. Let students use this wheel to determine what tool they might use to present their learning. Remember to allows follow your district AUP (Acceptable Use Policy).

Google Custom Search Engine. Why not have your students research and create their own search engine after vetting websites in a certain subject area? They will be learning searching skills and website evaluation techniques. Best of all, individual, groups, or the whole class own the search engine. It is easy to learn how!

Common Sense Education: Explore this awesome site that might allow you to put students in the center of their learning. Have students look at a list of apps and websites. They can determine what to use for presenting their learning in the EdTech Reviews Section. You will note these are all vetted by educators. When putting students online it is important that they all have some learning experience in Digital Citizenship. Be sure to check out the free curriculum in this area. Remember to allows follow your district AUP.

Genius Hour – This concept really allows students to look into their passions for a whole world of learning, or areas of interest in just one subject area. It is possible to still cover content standards while also bringing out the 21st Century Skill success qualities. Any project based on Genius Hour will also bring in those important Language Art Skills of research, writing, and presentation… with a connection to any subject. Best of all, think of all of those blended possibilities.

Edutopia Article: This article provides several ways that a teacher can provide for putting students in the center of their learning. What tools are in your blended learning portfolio that might facilitate ideas in this article? There may even be ways to leverage your student learning management system (LMS).

Reflection on Student Voice and Choice

Learning will always be most powerful when the student is in the center of the experience. Putting the student in the center provides a motivation and engagement that will serve well beyond the formal education years. Perhaps the most learning a child ever does is in those years before school. These are years when a child is in the center asking observing, questioning, and trying. There is no formal instruction, and perhaps that is for the best. PBL allows students to go back to that amazing time period of wonder and excitement while the teacher carefully crafts experiences and activates possibilities while keeping in mind that the student must be in the center.

Next Post: Reflection and Metacognition, PBL and the Blended Classroom… Sign Up Now!

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom in another practical workshop. All of these and more can also be built into a 1/2 day or full day session, and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021

Leave a comment

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Part 4… Authenticity: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

Welcome to the fourth in a series of posts regarding Blending the PBL Gold Standards, I am very excited to share on PBL and Blended/eLearning as it relates to this Blog’s topic of Authenticity. As I reflect, PBL has always been blended. Our challenge is… how to break down the classroom walls even more with the technology we have today. In this series, I will look at each of PBLWork’s Gold Standards. I will provide a short explanation and some free resources examples! Keep in mind that you may want to start small. That might include looking at a past project, or even a large multi-step lesson through the lens of the Gold Standards and free Blended/eLearning resources The Gold Standards from PBLWorks are posted in the picture above. Enjoy this wonderful journey of learning. 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 important to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet with tools at bottom.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  Enjoy your PBL Journey! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. I have a number of distance interactive workshops that can be made to fit your schedule. Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021.

Part 4… Authenticity: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources by Michael Gorman at 21centuryedtech

Learning must be authentic and meaningful in order for the content to really be understood and usable. While there are several education models that promote this idea, it is a necessity in a well-planned Project Based Learning (PBL) Unit. While memorizing and reciting facts may actually give some positive results on a test, it demonstrates only the lowest levels of learning as represented at the bottom of Bloom’s Taxonomy. PBL provides students that authentic learning experience that allows for real world applications, purpose, student relevant, and an audience beyond their classroom walls. Read more about these four special indicators of an authentic learning experience. While a PBL project may not always have every indicator, it is important to keep these qualities in mind when designing a project

  • Real World (True to the World)
  • Purposeful… The …So what
  • Relevant to the Here and Now
  • Audience and Mentors

1. True to the World – Learning must have meaning which extends to the real world, outside the walls of the brick and mortar classroom. The equations of math and the theories of science are a language of their own and reside in that real world. Today’s technology allows students to interact with the larger community, visit another continent, and even travel across the solar system. Curricular concepts and standards can become real and filled with meaning.
2. Purposeful – PBL provides students a purpose, allowing students to work on purposeful projects that can make a difference to others. This project is the process and the final results not only provide a reason and purpose. While a diorama displaying a garden can demonstrate some basic learning at the end of the unit, a student initiated vegetable garden that provides food to the community provides real purpose. Students begin to see why they are doing and learning and are provided the opportunity to contribute to a greater community. As students envision the project and its results… it must really answer the… So What?
3. Relevant to the Here and Now – A common question from students is often, “Why do we need to learn this?” The typical answer is often, “Because you will need it someday. Students should be learning concepts and ideas now, because they also need it now. A PBL Unit might put them in the middle of saving a building, helping the less fortunate, communicating with a culture across the world, creating a museum, writing books for younger children, or authoring an article for Wikipedia. When students know why they are learning and using their knowledge to make a difference, a whole new deeper learning results. They may actually be able to tell their parents what they learned in
school today, and more importantly describe what they did!
4. Real Audience and Mentors – A classroom is filled with students and a teacher and their interaction can be powerful. PBL promotes the idea of the classroom being the entire world. Providing students an authentic audience beyond their classroom is powerful. It promotes rigor and quality work because students realize their work is to be on display and will be viewed by more than their teacher and peers. It could be another classroom or better yet, of the world whether it is real or virtual. Audience can also be an ongoing part of any project in the form of mentors and experts. This capability can exist in the classroom or even online using proper procedures.

Resources for Authenticity, PBL, and Blended Learning:  – I am including just a small set of resources that might help you develop authenticity in PBL as you blend the possibilities. There are only five, and as you read them, think of ways you can take these ideas and blend them with technology. These resources provide possibilities that might be an entire PBL, or just a learning activity inside a PBL. My primary focus was to find a few resources that might allow for some real authenticity across a wide range of subjects. I realize there are so much more… but that will be for a later Blog or Book!

iEARN: A global site crossing all disciplines promoting class to class collaboration throughout the world. Provides connection to UN Sustainable Development Goals. Here you can get your class involved across multiple disciplines with schools across the community, state, county, and world. Best of you will find PBL that is already blended.

Taking It Global – A Global space that promotes projects perfect for a PBL and Blended Classroom while making learning authentic for students. The connections and ideas are amazing and will engage students while supporting the standards.

Nepris – Welcome to a site that connects educators with a vast network of industry professionals to engage students in their learning and prepare them for their future. Professionals now have the opportunity to share their skills and knowledge with learners to inspire the next generation of the workforce. I believe that every PBL should have some kind of career connection. This site provides an experience that connects student to career and college possibilities!

Virtual Fieldtrip Collection – This is an amazing spreadsheet filled with authentic virtual PBL fieldtrip possibilities. How might you build these into a blended lesson that allows students to leave the classroom and their home? You will find a wonderful collection from museums, zoos, parks, industry, business, and even Skype sessions with experts. These examples just scratch the surface of possibilities.

Teachers’ Guide To Global Projects – This organization brings great resources to the classroom through the support of the Longview Foundation. Be prepared to spend some time looking at possibilities for real world connections using the blended classroom. The resources are sure to make learning in your school and classroom come alive with amazing authentic connections.

Reflection on Authenticity
As you can see, an authentic learning experience is of prime importance when designing and planning Project Based Learning for students at any level. Through this practice students can see real world application that provides meaning. They are involved in a purpose that facilitates engagement and passion. They interact with an audience and mentors providing a gateway that employs rigor and quality work. Best of all, technology and the blended classroom allows authenticity to become amplified creating new possibilities for applying real meaning to the standards. The result… learning that is deeper and rich in understanding.

Next Post: Student Voice and Choice, PBL and the Blended Classroom… Sign Up Now!

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom in another practical workshop. All of these and more can also be built into a 1/2 day or full day session, and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021

 

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Part 3… Sustained Inquiry: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources

Welcome to the third in a series of posts regarding Blending the PBL Gold Standards, I am very excited to share on PBL and Blended/eLearning as it relates to Sustained Inquiry. As I reflect, PBL has always been blended. Our challenge is… how to break down the classroom walls even more with the technology we have today. In this series, I will look at each of PBLWork’s Gold Standards. I will provide a short explaination and some free resources examples! Keep in mind that you may want to start small. That might include looking at a past project, or even a large multi-step lesson through the lens of the Gold Standards and free Blended/eLearning resources The Gold Standards from PBLWorks are posted in the picture above. Enjoy this wonderful journey of learning. 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 important to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet with tools at bottom.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  Enjoy your PBL Journey! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom in another practical workshop. All of these and more can also be built into a 1/2 day or full day session, and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your winter,spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021.

Part 3… Sustained Inquiry: Free Blended and eLearning PBL Gold Standards Resources by Michael Gorman at 21centuryedtech

As a teacher, it is very hard to not answer student questions. Yet, if we want students to own the inquiry, it is important to practice “answer restraint” in order to promote not just student answers… but more great student questions. As we all know, children are born with a natural inquiry  and those first five years are a gold mine of inquiry, questions, and wonderment! As children enter school they soon learn to stop asking questions, and instead look to the teacher for answers! PBL allows students to not only ask questions, but they also own this inquiry. As they own the inquiry not only do they find the answers… they also learn to ask even more questions that become deeper and facilitate authentic understanding.

Sustained Inquiry:  Need to Know(s) that allow students to uncover the standards.

In a world filled with so much instant information, it is important  to teach students to ask even more questions as they seek possible answers. So many times we talk about “lifelong learning” and its importance to personal adaptability in a rapidly changing society and workplace. It is developing student skills to ask good questions while seeking out more questions, and eventual answers, that are at the foundation of “life-long learning”! It is only when students own the inquiry that they also begin to own, direct, and self-regulate their own learning. At this point, learning becomes both passionate and authentic. The question remains, how do we as educators make it happen? Please take a moment to reflect on some of the major ideas and resources I have listed below. I am sure as you find answers, you will also begin to have even more questions. Embrace this idea, as it will lead to even more answers and even deeper understanding.  Enjoy the journey!

Resources for the Driving/Investigative Question and Challenges:  – I am including just a small set of resources that might help you develop student owned inquiry in PBL. There are only five, and as you read them think of ways you can take these ideas and blend them with technology. The most important part is framing a question so that it is open… but still constraining it so the question is certain to support the standards. This was my primary focus in finding resources. When we address the Gold Standard of Inquiry we will look even deeper at some student owned blended inquiry that helps answer the question. I realize there are so much more… but that will be for a later Blog or Book!

  1. Discover QFT at The Right Question Institute (https://rightquestion.org/)  – QFT, known as Question Formation Protocol is a simple way of promoting inquiring through collaborative groups of students. It incorporates the simple steps below and will allow your students to own the inquiry process while reflecting on their questions. Pay special attention to the templates that are provided for you to bring students to the blended world. They are amazing and free.
  • Brainstorm Questions
  • Identify questions (open and closed)
  • Advantages of open and closed questions
  • Rewrite an open to closed and a closed to open
  • Prioritize
  • Investigate

2. Edutopia: Establish a Classroom Wonderwall  (https://www.edutopia.org/practice/i-wonder-questions-harnessing-power-inquiry) – How about constructing a class Wonderwall where students can post their wonders? These can be tied to the curriculum or provide the foundation for student owned inquiry research. Take a look at this wonderful article to incorporate the idea in the classroom. As you do this, how might you make this happen in the online and blended world. Think of Apps such as Padlet, Google Docs, or even you own LMS using a classroom discussion. It really can help build a culture of wonder.

3. AnswerGarden (https://answergarden.ch/) – This site is best described as a minimalist feedback tool that is easy to use in the classroom. A teacher can create an Answer Garden by entering a topic on the Create New Answer Garden-Page. From there you will be redirected to your newly created Answer Garden Website. Since no-one has posted an answer yet, your Answer Garden will still be empty. The next step is to share your Answer Garden URL. Use it live in the classroom, to pose a question, or place (embed) your Answer Garden on your classroom website. A Driving Question could be posted with a request that students post their Need to Knows. There are countless possibilities. All student feedback  is then represented in your Answer Garden. One neat feature is to be able to export the feedback into a Word Cloud using Wordle or Tagxedo! Imagine the possible reflection and discussion that can spark great research.

4. Miro Brainstorming Tools (https://miro.com/templates/brainstorming/) – Mind mapping tools help students working together in colaboration to inquire, brainstorm, and look for answers. Miro has some free capbilities that you might find useful. Some of the tools include KWL, 5W’s, and Mind Mapping to name a few. You might want to even look at examples and find a way to duplicate these in Google Draw or Docs. Remember, that as students brainstorm, questions get bigger, deeper, and more numerous. How might you allow these ideas to facilitate student owned inquiry in PBL?

Genius Hour Site – Teachers across the country are finding ways to put that Google 20% in their classroom, while still supporting standards and 21st-century skills. This site might just help you get started in providing students the opportunity to learn how to learn, while practicing self-regulation. Best of all, it supports that important voice and choice along with spiraling inquiry!  It really encourages that important Maker’s Culture of Innovation. You may visualize how this easily works in a blended environment. Think of Zoom interviews, online research, student virtual presentations, collaborative on-line production, and so much more. This is a great way to teach digital inquiry, research, web evaluation skills.

Reflection on Student Sustained Inquiry
Project Based Learning facilitates and activates that essential human desire to learn, investigate, and inquire. It fosters the ability to ask that open ended question that uncover the curriculum content. A PBL Unit facilitates the student owned process of inquiry while seeking knowledge, along with high level skills that will serve a lifetime of learning. T

Next Post: Authenticity and PBL… Sign Up Now!

Booking Info –  Look for contact information at the Booking Site. I have a distance learning workshop and session entitled “STEM is a Verb”. In fact… the Workshop is also a Verb! I also have a new 1 hour workshop “Preparing for  PBL”. It really promotes that 4C Classroom. Perhaps you wish to investigate PBL in the eLearning and Blended Classroom in another practical workshop. All of these and more can also be built into a 1/2 day or full day session, and are very interactive! Schools have loved it! Talk with me about your winter,spring and summer… or even fall planning for 2021.

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