A World of PBL… 25 Authentic Resources To Connect Students Beyond The Classroom

 

connectWelcome to a post that has taken some time and research to put together for you. I believe that connecting our students to the world is so important. The internet provides many possibilities. In this post I want to introduce you to 25 of of them. Take some time to enjoy this wonderful journey.  First, 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 – 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, Makerspace, Inquiry, Computational Thinking, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  My calendar is filling. Also, take a moment to check out FETC 2019 in Orlando, Florida this January. I will be providing workshops and featured sessions on STEM, PBL, Inquiry, Maker Space, and Computational Thinking! Join Me!

A World of PBL… 25 Authentic Resources To Connect Students Beyond The Classroom

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” ― John Dewey

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, immediate purpose, student relevancy, and an audience beyond their classroom walls. The idea of authenticity is amplified when connections are provided!

Why are these connections important? Knowledge does not thrive in isolation. In fact, content knowledge is only useful to students when applied to concepts found outside the classroom. For students, PBL allows for connections that provide important links from their knowledge acquisition to their real world experiences.  Sometimes these connections allow student to use areas of past knowledge to understand and construct new knowledge… many times the role of a PBL Launch or Entry Event. Equally important are connections to future career and college possibilities.  Let’s not forget how valuable connecting with experts and institutions can be. Of course, collaborating with other students on a meaningful topic across the district, town, state, country, and world can have a great impact on learning.

While teachers have always found a way to make connections for students, the internet provides a wonderful and exciting opportunity. There are numerous organizations and sites that can help make this happen for you and your students.  I wish to share with you some that I have discovered. Please enjoy your journey through these. I am certain you will get excited as you explore new ideas and possibilities. At the same time, we must remember to connect to the content standards while facilitating and assessing 21st century skills. Last, always be sure to check your district AUP and administration before putting students online in this way. You may need to get parent permission.  I also see a need to provide students appropriate lessons on proper digital citizenship. Whether it is a short lesson, or a PBL unit connecting beyond the classroom walls, connecting with the real world will provide an authenticity that makes learning come alive!

The 25 Resources

  • Roots and Shoots – Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots is the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) global youth-led community action program, comprised of thousands of young people as they connect knowledge and service with the real world.
  • ePals – Another wonderful site allowing students to collaborate across the globe. Check out the amazing possibilities. It provides ways for teachers to connect with other teachers and decide on projects their students can do together.
  • Pen Pals School – Are you interested in implementing more project based learning in your class this year? Check out Pen Pals School. Whether your students design robots with PenPals in Asia, write poetry with PenPals in Europe, or create environmental solutions with PenPals in Africa. Keep in mind there may be a cost to this service.
  • Taking it Global – Visit one of the world’s leading networks of young people learning about, engaging with, and working towards authentic solutions to world challenges. TakingITGlobal is one of the world’s leading networks of young people as they collaborate and learn with each other.
  • The Globe Program – Take a look at this organization that inspires to promote the teaching and learning of science, enhance environmental literacy and stewardship, and promote scientific discovery.
  • iEarn – Join interactive curriculum-based groups where students are creating, researching, sharing opinions and becoming global citizen. This is a wonderful program with years of experience behind it. There may be a small cost.
  • Edutopia Resources for Building Community Partnerships – Learn how schools can benefit from the support and expertise of local businesses, organizations, and individuals, and discover strategies for fostering successful business and community partnerships
  • Empatico – Empatico empowers teachers and students to explore the world through experiences that spark curiosity, kindness, and empathy. We combine live video with activities designed to foster meaningful connections among students ages 7-11.
  • Global School Net – Explore a site that combines education and technology to strengthen communities and benefit humanity. You will discover support brain-friendly learning and improve academic performance through content-driven collaboration.
  • Skype in the Classroom – You will enjoy this free community that offers live transformative educational experiences for students including Virtual Field Trips, talks from Guest Speakers, classroom to classroom connections, and live collaboration projects.
  • Dream Makers – This is an organization that focuses on providing consistent exposure to career opportunities and dynamic professionals.
  • Virtual Field Trip Data Base – This is a spreadsheet that I discovered filled with over 300 virtual field trip possibilities from multiple sites. Discover something that connects to your curriculum.
  • Global Learners Project – The Project includes several topics and activity suggestions to create engaging and interactive class to class connections. Each topic includes at least one activity that requires little to no prep, while other activities take students deeper into learning. Use this for ideas, you will still have to find a school to connect with.
  • Worldvuze – Take some time to explore this map-based question and answer education platform where elementary and secondary students around the world can learn directly from each other!
  • The Global Read Aloud – The project was created in 2010 and had a simple goal in mind; one book to connect the world. From its humble beginnings, the GRA has grown to make a truly global connection with more than 4,000,000 students having participated. This is a project that usually starts in October.
  • Projects By Jen – This a wonderful site that has been successfully encouraging teachers since 1999 to use online projects in their PreK-6 classrooms.
  • Flat Connections – Flat connected learning is where all learners have freedom to communicate across borders rather than up or down – with no hierarchy. There may be a small cost for portions.
  • Teachers’ Guide To Global Projects – This organization id made possible through the support of the Longview Foundation, iEARN-USA has compiled an online Teachers’ Guide to Global, Collaborative Teaching and Learning.
  • Online Collaboration Curricula –  Explore this awesome collection of ideas that students can collaborate on using the internet. You may need to find that partner classroom.
  • Art In All Of Us – The objective of the AiA Pen Pal Program is to promote creative and artistic communication among children worldwide. They have setup a network of schools around the world, through which schools are paired and exchange informative artworks on their own country and culture.
  • Journey North – Now in its 25th year, Journey North is one of North America’s premiere citizen science projects for children and the general public. The project has broad participation, with over 60,000 registered sites in the US, Canada, and Mexico — including families, teachers, schools, nature centers, professional scientists and novices.
  • The Global Math Challenge – Global Math Challenge (GMC) is a worldwide math competition held online and hosted by Sony Global Education, Inc. Great brainteasers in this contest will excite & fascinate math lovers both young and old. Enjoy competing with math fans all over the world.
  • QUADBlogging – QuadBlogging was born in 2011 and since its conception, over 500,000 students from over 65 countries have taken part. The concept is simple, once signed up, you will be allocated a Quad containing 4 classes including yours. Each Quad will have a Quad Co-ordinator attached to it. Once contact is made between the four teachers
  • Kids Go Global – Green Fairs, theatre about global issues, water audits, wetland protection and lots more. Share your projects with others. See what the rest of the world is doing. There may be some cost to some projects.
  • Biblionasium – Explore this site that is the fun, reading-focused social network for kids in elementary and middle school. The site emphasis is to connect kids in an encouraging community of friends, family and their educators, Biblionasium excites, engages and encourages a love of the written word. Kids can log their reading, play games, complete reading challenges and earn rewards. Requires parents to sign children up.

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of connection possibilities for the classroom!  Join me in future weeks as together we continue to explore several more posts devoted to the Flipped Classrooms, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, PBL, STEM, technology integration, web resources, makers, computational thinking, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work,  have a great week, and a enjoy this wonderful new school year. Welcome to the Future! – Mike Gorman

Booking Info – 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 done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with time up to and including December just about filled,  and I am  taking 2019 dates.

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Ten Inspiring Lessons From An Almost Analog Native … Back To School 2018

back_to_school

It is back to school time 2018 for many of us in the United States and beyond… welcome to the future! I dedicate this post to all of you wonderful educators . It is my hope that as many educators as possible read this post as they begin a new year journey… I hope you share and make this happen!  (Via school emails and retweet to your friends). Please enjoy this reflective journey and send to others what I hope to be a teaching inspiration.  I wish all of you the very best as you enter a new school year! I hope you enjoy this timeless lesson… one that really does have a place in 21st century education. It is a reminder that teaching truly is an amazing art. Let’s all keep up the wonderful painting.  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 – 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, Makerspace, Inquiry, Computational Thinking, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  My calendar is filling. Also, take a moment to check out FETC 2019 in Orlando, Florida this January. I will be providing workshops and featured sessions on STEM, PBL, Inquiry, Maker Space, and Computational Thinking! Join Me!

10 Inspiring Lessons From An Almost Analog Native – Mike Gorman ((https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

It was a normal first day back to school. The building was still quiet and still. I could sense there was an air of extreme excitement and anticipation in the air. I sat at my desk and pondered the reality of a new year wondering about the new faces I would greet.  I already knew that all too soon I would be waving good bye to another group I had come to know so well. It is amazing what the short period of a school year brings to both educators and students.  Suddenly awakened from what was either my deep reflection or possibly a type of relaxing nap that only the whisperings of being another year older can bring, a panicked voice was heard at my classroom door.

He was a brand new teacher dressed as one who just might enlighten the downtown business club, yet he stood with the glazed eyes of a student still waiting for that moment of enlightenment. I had seen it all before, perhaps even in the reflection of a distant mirror over thirty-seven years ago. He was summoning me to his room, not that I regarded it as his room… at least not yet. You see, I had great respect for the educator who had been a part of the four walls that this soon to be teacher was leading me to. As he led me through the doorway of his new headquarters for dissemination of information I couldn’t help but notice a peculiar feeling of past warmth that was missing. There was a indescribable void, covering a large aura which had been in place for nearly fifty years.

As he motioned for me to look at the archaic blackboard behind the new, still packaged, and not yet plugged in interactive whiteboard I couldn’t help but smile. There, still written with chalk that  had the smell of fresh dust, were the words “A Message from an Almost Analog Native”.  Then I heard the young teacher’s voice asking how he might  get rid of the words. He pleaded that, after all, he saw no button to push to dissolve the print. I smiled and walked to the board and picked up the eraser. I cleverly planned to display to this obviously digital native, one of this school’s first such inductees, the magic of an eraser. I even had my strategy for providing a professional development moment on the use of chalk. After all, improper use of chalk can lead to an annoying screech that will send most students diving under their desks. As I held up the eraser I walked to the board and began to perform the ancient teacher ritual of erasing a black… not green,board. Amazingly, it did not work out the way I had planned. As I observed the pupils of this brand new teacher’e eyes grow large, I turned to the board and took a step back in awe. Not only were the words not disappearing… but new words were beginning to appear underneath. It was now quite obvious that we were both extremely engaged in the lesson that was about to begin. I have recorded for you the amazing script that came before my eyes that very day.

The Ten Lessons

Welcome to your new classroom. I am sure you are going to explain and teach in a way that I might never understand. You see, I come from a day of filmstrip projectors that beeped, ditto paper that left my fingers blue and the students enjoying the scent, bells that really did ring out a mechanical melody, 16 millimeter films that, if in color, amazed the kids. In fact, if these films were shown backwards it provided bonus entertainment. In recent years I have heard words that are so strange to me. These words include foreign terms such as twitter, blog, wiki, Skype, web 2.0, clickers, and interactive whiteboards. I have heard all this talk about 21st century skills and I am not even sure if I can tell you what they are. So there you have it. I am not one of those digital natives, nor am I a digital immigrant! I may not even be an analog native or immigrant. So, even though I do not know all the new terms, I thought that I might give you a list of ten items I feel just might ensure success no matter what century it is.

  1.  You come to school to serve your students. Put them at the center of their learning. Find great books, integrate fascinating projects, and include engaging resources.  As you do this, always remember that students must be at the center of their learning.
  2.  As you teach you will come upon some amazing tools. My very first full sized erasable blackboard was wonderful and I was amazed by the pull down map. I remember the very first time I used colored chalk and our very first classroom set of encyclopedias. Imagine having almost all the knowledge of the world in your classroom. Please remember that tools are only as effective as those who use them. You will be introduced to amazing new tools. Make sure these tools become the servants and not the masters of your teaching.
  3. Realize that every student is truly gifted. It may be that your job is to find that special gift and make the student aware of it. Each gift is different and will ultimately lead that student to an interest and vocation that they find great pleasure in while contributing to society. They may even come back some day and thank you for revealing that gift to them.
  4. Learning does not just happen in the classroom. Open your students to the world by introducing them to experts, authors, cultures, and multiple disciplines. Teach them to become lifetime learners who will embrace learning beyond the classroom and beyond their school experience. It seems this world is ever changing and, in order to keep up with things, they may need to someday be their own teacher.
  5. Allow your students the experience of searching for success. This involves allowing multiple attempts, occasional failure, and eventual triumph. Learning does not always need to be graded, but must always be guided. Remember, it is not always the destination, but in most instances… the journey. Allow your students those journeys with multiple opportunities and outcomes.
  6. Encourage cooperation, teamwork, and healthy competition. Teach your students that the thoughts and contributions of many can be so much more powerful than just the contribution of one. Emphasize true discussion and listening, and allow for discourse. The ability to work, plan, and play together has been, and always will be, an important skill.
  7. Promote thinking that is outside what many might consider the box. Allow your students to have their own ideas, play with possibilities, and invent what doesn’t exist. Not everything in life can come from your textbook. Remember, what we believe as facts today could change in twenty-five to fifty years. It seems that information probably doubles every hundred years. I suppose that might even speed up a bit as time goes on.
  8. It seems that all of us learn best by doing. Allow your students to not just hear it or read about it. Provide them with real life experiences and allow then to do it. Guide them as they are doing so they are learning relevant content and gaining new skills. Give them some say in what they are doing.
  9. Remember your humanness. Always have a sense of humor and be yourself. Remember that teaching is a people business. Enjoy the laughter, the stories, the victories, the accomplishment, and the small (but really big) moments that can only happen in a real live classroom. Some say that someday robots or some kind of two way wireless radio will take over education. I truly think this will never happen because teachers will always show that the human element is essential. A smile from a real person sure beats that of a  robot or a distant person on a wireless radio covered in distant sounds of static.
  10. Always remember that you teach children… not subjects such as science, history, arithmetic, ciphering, citizenship, reading, English, and shop. You see, it is the teaching of children that convinced me to get into this amazing business… and it is the reason that most great teachers have a hard time giving up a classroom like this.

Please take good care of this classroom. It never was mine, only one that I was allowed not just to educate children in, but so much more. It was a classroom in which I was allowed to perpetuate a culture of learning for almost fifty years. You see, not all of these ideas were mine. I found them on an old slate lying in a back closet when I first entered this room. I was so happy I had a pencil in hand, because no faster had I made my copy than the words on the slate disappeared. I think I may have made a few changes. I know I will have a chance in my retirement to read about some of these new tools and even learn about these 21st century skills. It will probably give me a chance to think about what I might have done to make learning in my classroom even better. When I find out… I might even send you a message. Until then, please take care of this old classroom and, more importantly, take even more care with those children who will enter tomorrow and thereafter. I know you will perpetuate the culture of learning that has permeated these four walls for more years than even those I taught.

You know… there wasn’t much to say. I looked at the new kid who seemed even more ready to teach. His eyes appeared already a few years older. As we both stood there we saw the old blackboard magically erase and turn a clean dark shade of black. I picked up the eraser that I had dropped during this unusual encounter and handed it over to the new guy. He opened the closet door and threw it in. I heard a gentle thump as it landed on something that may have been a slate. Together, we both unpacked and plugged in his new interactive whiteboard. He carefully positioned it so he could still see a portion of that old blackboard from his desk. We both knew why. As I walked out of the room that day I couldn’t help but think about the history that just might occur in that old classroom in the next fifty years. But, I had plans to make and students to get ready for as I was incorporating many of those new 21st century skills I had been reading about all summer. I was so excited about providing so many new opportunities for my students. After all, this is a new era for new techniques and strategies and yes… some that have always been a art of learning.

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of 21st century (and even before that) learning. Join me in future weeks as together we continue to explore several more posts devoted to the Flipped Classrooms, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, PBL, STEM, technology integration, web resources, makers, computational thinking, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work,  have a great week, and a enjoy this wonderful new school year. Welcome to the Future! – Mike Gorman

Booking Info – 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 done 100’s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with time up to and including December just about filled,  and I am  taking 2019 dates.

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Part 2: Computational Thinking: Over 50 Resources To Teach CT Across the Curriculum

ct

Welcome to part two on this series based on Computation Thinking. This second post will provide a goldmine of resources to get you started with your students. In the prior post I provided 10 ideas to promote Computational Thinking across the curriculumn. You will not want to miss it!  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 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 . Please note I will be at BLC18 in Boston (July) and FETC19 Orlando (January) supporting teachers in PBL and more. See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com). Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

Part 2: Computational Thinking: A Goldmine of Resources – Michael Gorman

The goal of computational thinking is really about getting students to use computer type thinking to solve real world problems. So often we are the users of algorithms, but rarely are we creating them. Facilitating this skill for our students will allow them to innovate,  understand, and find purpose. Most of all they will be equiped to fast a world which is constatnly changing.  It is from the book The power of Computational Thinking by Paul Curzon and Peter W McOwan we find the following quote:

“The beauty of Algorithms is that steps can be followed without those involved having any idea of what they are doing and why”

I can personally relate with this quote. I found myself many times in school following algorithms of which I had no idea for their meaning. I did pass the ACT because I had answers for which I had no understanding of. We as educators must go that next step, providing students a way to problem sovle and come up with algoritms that provide the solutions.

For thsi reason I provide to you some resources I hope you will find valuable. Keep in mind that Computational Thinking can use devices, robots, and computers to support learning. It also is valuable to do some “unplugged” activities that allow students to dive deep into their own thinking leaving the digital object to the side. I have tried to provide resources that support both. Last, the ability to undertand the workings of a computer is only half of the algorithm. Keep in mind that human element. How do we find a way to use the power and speed of the computer along with the comprehension and metacognitive abity of the human mind. Enjoy the quote and resources that follow.

“The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is incredibily slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. The marriage of the two is a force beyond calculations” – Leo Cherne

Main Site Computational Thinking Resources:

Puzzles for Computational Thinking

Articles, Inormation, Ideas

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. My 2018  calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January and 2019! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part 1: Computational Thinking: 10 Ways To Promote CT Across The Curriculum

ct

Welcome to part one on this series based on Computation Thinking. This first post will provide the “what” along with some steps to promote this important practice. The second post will provide a goldmine of resources to get you started with your students. You will not want to miss it!  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 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 . Please note I will be at BLC18 in Boston (July) and FETC19 Orlando (January) supporting teachers in PBL and more. See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com). Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

Part 1: Computational Thinking: 10 Ways To Promote – Michael Gorman

As you might know, I believe all transformative practices must be based in the standards. These standards must include both content and process standards (4C’s). Too often, I see wonderful activities that engages students… but also see important standards that could have been made authentic to students through deliberate metacognition engaging the mind and the heart.

In this post, I would like to review a thinking processes that can be applied across the curriculum providing a process for authentic understanding of standards.  The cognitive process I am referring to is Computational Thinking (CT). This type of thinking is important not just in high stake testing, but also success in that world after school. Perhaps you have come across the idea of computational thinking in education.  The best way to describe computational thinking is to look at the way a computer thinks… or at least runs a program. This is actually the most important concept a student learns through coding and developing computer programs. We must keep in mind that it is not the coding that is important… but the thinking process. After all… one can use a computer, but not actually use computational thinking skills.

So, what is this skill set found in Computational Thinking? They are best described as the important steps taken to solve a problem and come up with a solution. As you read these steps think about your own curriculum. Where do you want your students to use computational thinking skills?

  • Decomposition – This involves the ability for students to look at a problem. and through careful observation students break down a problem or system into smaller, more manageable parts.
  • Pattern recognition – Now that the problem is broken down students must look for similarities among and within the problem. What patterns can be seen and what does this mean?
  • Abstraction – At this stage students begin focusing on the valuable information only, ignoring irrelevant detail. It really is time to look at the specific trees while blurring the forest. While determining what is important… how does this relate to a possible solution?
  • Algorithms – At this point students should be able to develop a step-by-step solution to the problem. They maybe able to also identify rules and procedures to solve the problem

As you can see these abilities are an important part of critical thinking. They allow us to use our human ability to go beyond the computer program. We have long used subroutines of thinking in class such as determining reasons for a civilization’s decline, the twists in a story, the answer to a math story problem, or the use of a dichotomous key. In past practice, we as the teacher often provide the steps necessary to find the answer. What would happen if our students created the algorithm itself, at least part of the time? How might we assess them in this style of thinking that provides deeper understanding. What if our hour of code turned into solving a real problem? What if we brought a Makers Culture into the classroom and facilitated and assessed computational thinking while emphasizing authentic and real understanding of the standards?

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

I believe John Dewey said it best with the above quote. We must provide our students opportunities to critically think. We must assess them, and they must assess themselves.  We must go beyond engaging activities for the sake of engagement. We must engage the mind!  As Dewy reminds us, providing students the opportunity to think about and do something with content is what real learning is all about. Best of all, a new and real understanding will be achieved that no standardized test can stand in the way of.

Ten Ideas to Expand Computational Thinking in your Classroom

  1. Take time to embrace the verbs in the standards… doing is learning.
  2. Facilitate and assess the 4C’s… assessment should be by teacher, peers, self, and mentors.
  3. Encourage metacognition and the “Habits of the Mind”. We must have moments that we think about thinking.
  4. Promote and assess collaboration as it expands and enriches the understanding of all involved. Realize that this is a foundation for critical thinking.
  5. Embrace, demand, and facilitate rigouous and continuous inquiry.
  6. Think Webb’s DOK and upper Blooms and make sure it is a part of a high percentage of lessons.
  7. Remind students…. algorithms are steps that anyone can follow, not as many can write one. They must become the creators of algorithms.
  8. Support students making and using computational thinking to expand standards while connecting to real world and other disciplines.
  9. Support standards by aligning and assessing through student making and thinking.
  10. Provide students important content connected with thinking,,,  plus doing and making

In the next post, I will provide you with a Gold Mine of resources to further investigate Computational Thinking. Please take the time to visit and 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! – 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. My 2018  calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January and 2019! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

 

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Part 2 Starting PBL: 30 Amazing Resources To Help Plant A New PBL Idea

startPBL

Welcome to Part Two of starting a PBL project.   In this series I wish to help educators find ways to get ideas for a PBL they may wish to do with their class. I often think that the hardest part in PBL is coming up with an idea. In Part One I provided thoughts that can help you get that idea . In Part Two (this post) I will provide some valuable web resources. I do hope you enjoy!  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 PBL!  Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 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 . Please note I will be at BLC18 in Boston (July) and FETC19 Orlando (January) supporting teachers in PBL and more. See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com). Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

Part 2 Starting PBL: 30 Amazing Resources To Help Plant A New PBL Idea

I sure hope you enjoyed that last post on ideas to get you started with that PBL unit. If you missed it then be sure to check it out here. As you know, the web provides us with many possibilities. As you suspect, there are a lot of PBL ideas out there. I often tell people you can begin a search in some of the following ways:

  1. Go to google and use key word PBL along with some other keywords… what do you find?
  2. Check out Twitter… use hashtag PBL along with some other keyword(s)… what might your tweet uncover?
  3. Perhaps there is an online competition that you have used or just come across… how can you turn it into a PBL?
  4. You may have found that perfect lesson at your favorite curriculum site… can it be expanded to a PBL?
  5. Don’t forget your local newspaper or favorite news outlet( local, national, and world)… what interesting story might engage students and also start a project?

There are also specific sites that are geared toward Project Based Learning.  Some provide an entire project. Others will give a lesson or activity that could be turned into a project when mapped out. Let me share some of those with you in the space below. Keep in mind that I am trying to keep it simple so you have a starting place. You may want to consider your subject area and organizations that support that specific curriculum. This will allow you to do your own search. Let’s get started!

1. BIE Tools – This is the BUCK Institute Project Search Database/ Here you will find a collection somewhere around 450 proven lesson plans to set any PBL desire into action. Look at the database but also click on the BIE home tab to view the entire site.

2. PBL Projects – This is a list of PBL possibilities for all grade levels in multiple subject areas.

3. Edutopia –This link brings you to a wonderful PBL treasure chest of ideas, resources, and research.

​4. Unit Starter Resources – These are from the Read to Be Ready Program in Tennessee and provide some great possibilities for building a PBL.

​5. Sites Supporting PBL – Use these resources for your Project Based Learning and collaborative based teaching. While you are using PBL in the classroom, search here for data sources, biography and inventor topics. Check subject area topics for development like math, science, and weather, and projects on countries and continents. There are projects for elementary levels as well as project ideas for middle and high school. Also listed are Problem Based Learning topics. Please explore them all! You will find great ideas for PBL learning

6. Learning Reviews – This website claims to connect kids to learning on the web. It really connects kids to awesome, engaging, rigorous, and relevant projects. It points to numerous websites on the internet that house some great PBL possibilities. Be sure to check out all of the subjects and grade levels.
Here are more than 30 websites with free PBL examples, guidance, rubrics, and templates. To see Project Based Learning lessons sorted by subject go to:
PBL Language Arts Projects by grade level
PBL Science Lesson Ideas by topic
PBL Math Project Ideas by topic
PBL Social Studies Project Ideas by grade level

7. TeachThought – Here you will find a long list of ideas for Project Based Learning. Take some time to explore for inspiration.

8. ​New Tech – A great collection of resources from an amazing school (New Tech High School). You will find authentic student owned PBL.​

9. Google Project Slide Resources Ideas – While not full-blown PBL there are some possibilities fo using Google Slides for presenting a PBL.

10. Seventeen Examples of STEM PBL – Take a look at this list of STEM activities that can be brought into PBL.

11. PBL Math Ideas – This is a wonderful collection of Math possibilities from  various location made possible by Thomasville City Schools.

12. Fifteen Classroom Literacy Ideas for Early Childhood – The folks at NWEA have assembled a wonderful list of real literacy ideas to bring your students not just in their early education years, but also ideas that can be adapted for older students. They can also work into a PBL. I like these as a base due to the authenticity possibilities.

13. Fifty Student Competitions – I mentioned competitions and how they can build into a PBL. Take a moment to check out the possibilities.

14.  Real Projects – Inspired by approaches pioneered in the US, and developed through a partnership between Innovation Unit and High Tech High in California, REAL Projects are now being used by schools all over England.

15. PBL U – Here are several great project already designed by the people at BIE. Take a look and learn more!

16. Global School Net – This organization supports 21st century, brain-friendly learning, and improves academic performance through content-driven collaboration. They engage educators and students in brain-friendly e-learning projects worldwide to develop science, math, literacy and communication skills, foster teamwork, civic responsibility and collaboration, encourage workforce preparedness and create multi-cultural understanding.

17. Imagination Foundation Cardboard Challenge – Take a break from digital technology and devices and find a way to bring old fashion technology in the classroom such as… cardboard! You will imagine some great PBL possibilties.

18.  iEarn – Join this interactive curriculum-based groups where students are creating, researching, sharing opinions and becoming global citizens.

19.  Roots and Shoots – Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots is the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) global youth-led community action program, consisting of thousands of young people as they connect knowledge and service with the real world.

20.  ePals – This is another wonderful site allowing students to collaborate across the globe. Check out the amazing possibilities for PBL.

21.  Taking it Global –  Visit one of the world’s leading networks of young people learning about, engaging with, and working towards tackling global challenges.

22.  The Globe Program –  Take a look at this organization that inspires to promote the teaching and learning of science, enhance environmental literacy and stewardship, and promote scientific discovery.

23. New York Times Learning Reviews – Check out these wonderful and thought-provoking lesson plans that could be built into a PBL. You will be amazed!

24. NASA Search – Take a look at this data base of lessons and activities that could be empowered into some PBL possibilities. Not only might you get the idea for a PBL, you could also get specific lessons to put in your PBL map.

25. Arts Edge – One of my favorite places for the Arts from the Kennedy Institute. You are bound to find some wonderful ideas for a PBL.

26. The Exploritorium Tinkering Studio – Tinkering is at the very heart of formative learning, allowing for iterations that encourage revision and reflection.  Kids develop an understanding of how to learn from failure and setbacks in order to experience eventual success. The Tinkering Studio is primarily an R&D laboratory on the floor of the Exploratorium, but whenever possible they try to share their projects, activities, and developing ideas following an “open source” model. Learn how you too can enjoy their activities in your classroom while allowing your kids to Tinker and Make!

27. EGFI – If you are into STEM… than take a look at EGFI and all of its possibilities. Many of these activities and lessons can be scoped out to bring about a PBL. Give it a try!

28. Project Approach – Reading about—and seeing—project work in the classroom provides an excellent way to learn about or enhance one’s use of the Project Approach, a kind of project-based teaching and learning. The projects compiled here are sorted by grade level, with many making use of local surroundings and resources, integrating technology in purposeful ways, raising awareness about “green” issues, and achieving other goals aligned with best practices in 21st-century education.

29. PBL Clearing House – This University of Delaware site provides some interesting possibilities for secondary schools and PBL.

30. High Tech Elementary – Their high school projects are awesome. Take a look at these student projects aimed at the elementary

There you have it! I do hope you enjoy these thirty possibilities. I do plan on adding as I get more resources. If you know of one please let me know at (mjgormans@gmail.com) or on twitter at mjgormans.  I wish you the very best as you come up with that new PBL idea. Perhaps you now have at least one from your journeythroug this post. Enjoy the PBL journey!

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. My 2018  calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January and 2019! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part 1 Starting PBL: 15 Strategies To Help You With A New PBL Idea

startPBL

Welcome to Part One of starting a PBL project.   In this series, I wish to help educators see ways to get ideas for a PBL unit of learning. I often think that the hardest part in PBL is coming up with an idea. In Part One, I plan on giving you some thoughts that can help you get that idea… and in Part Two,  I will provide some valuable web resources. I do hope you enjoy!  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 PBL!  Most of all, thanks for being one of those over 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 . Please note I will be at BLC18 in Boston (July) and FETC19 Orlando (January) supporting teachers in PBL and more. See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com). Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

Part 1 Starting PBL: 15 Strategies To Help You With A New PBL Idea

So… you are trying to come up with an idea for that PBL. Like I said earlier, this is often the hardest part of designing PBL. Of course, you have so many questions and possibly not enough answers! Great… you are on your road to coming up with a great PBL. Before helping with these concepts here are some ideas you should consider first.

  1. What standards are to be covered? – Remember that whether we are enthusiastic about standards or not, standards probably are a reality we must live with. In some ways is does keep us grounded.
  2. Should standards or project idea come first? – This always reminds me of “Who’s on First”. My answer, it does not matter as long as the standards and project align. I have done it both ways. Although, it is sometimes hard to ignore that local authentic idea that is in our community. Can you match it to those standards?
  3. How long should my project last? – Many times this depends on how often you spend with students each day. Elementary may be different from high school.  You might be in a middle school that teams. I always recommend that the time period should match the standards. To much time spent could cause problems later in the year. Watch out for making the project so big that it engages all of us way outside the standards. Many times we plan something in the summer that we wonder what we were thinking once the school year starts. Start simple and you will find success!
  4. Can I use my past lessons in a project? – This is a great idea. Don’t reinvent everything.  Please take time to honor those succesful learning opportunities we have provided from the past. That analog file cabinet can be a gold mine! This is actually part of making that project map (See prior series post).
  5. Does a PBL have to include more than one subject? – The answer is no… but making connections is good. In fact, in elementary almost any subject can connect to ELA. Sometimes those connections to the real world outside the classroom are more important then to another discipline.

Now that we have defined some of these foundation concepts, we need to look to where we can get the idea for the project. Let’s explore!

  1. Borrow from the web or other professionals – This is always a great idea and sometimes a nice way to start. If there are ways to localize it… even better! The next post is for all of those that are looking for that opportunity to borrow from the web! As a side note… make sure you share back!
  2. Re-engineer a past project or lesson – So you have just learned about the PBL Gold Standards from BIE. Perhaps you have looked at my A-G Building Blocks. It might be time to look at that old project and consider ways to make it live up to authentic PBL Use or create vetting form based on these elements to determine the area of needs. Decide what elements of PBL that past unit must take on, and the make it happen! Perhaps you have a lesson that can actually be scoped out to become a small PBL. What a great place for those starting to begin their PBL journey!
  3.  Think world to local problems – Take a moment to brainstorm some of these problems. Consider the skills needed to solve these problems. What a great $C’s connection!  What questions might need to be answered to solve these problems? Look at you curriculum to see where this might fit. How can you integrate the questions,  problems, skills, and content together to provide an authentic and real world learning experience?
  4. Read the newspaper or watch the news – In relationship to “world and local problems” this can be an eye opener. It is amazing what we can see in the news. I often tell people, the more local… the better! Perhaps your students might even come up with project ideas. Once again remember… how does it fit to the standards?
  5. Brainstorm Open Ended Questions – With a group, think of open-ended questions that also might integrate with curriculum. List as many as possible and then investigate how these might lead to a project, and an even possible Driving Question.
  6. Empower Students – Perhaps you are doing a Genius Hour. Remember that ELA can always connect to that. There could be a unit of study in the near future where  students might come up with their own questions, which might lead to their own project. Remember to constrain this to standards.
  7. Observe your community – Take a drive, look at Google Earth, read and watch the news, listen to students and community concerns, discover community treasures, find out about unique community and business resources, and find out about area experts, heroes, and common folk. Take a moment to just imagine!  Do you see connections with the standards?
  8. Connect with others – Get ideas from a conference, put hashtag “PBLproject” (or something like that) into a Twitter search, talk with other educators nearby or far away, check out sites using a PBL as a keyword along with your subject area. You are bound to get some ideas!
  9. Go beyond problem solving – So many times we feel PBL must solve a problem. Perhaps the PBL will share an idea, promote a local landmark, recognize a person or people, design an opportunity, serve the public, create a material or nonmaterial possibility, celebrate success, provide a unique story and opportunity, or best yet… bring people together. I am sure you can keep going with ideas!
  10. Look at what is being done – So many times I see teachers struggle with PBL  while at the same time they are having students create something in a Makerspace, problem solving with Computational Thought, having students  create using Design Thinking, inquiring with STEM (STEAM), or having students take part in a local or online competition. All of these are great opportunities to investigate what it might take to transform one of these initiatives into a PBL that is standards based. Perhaps that PBL is already  or almost there!

There are my 15 ideas and strategies! Perhaps I could come up with more, but I will leave that to you. Afterall this is PBL! I hope you can see that in many ways you might be right on the edge of PBL on the road to coming up with another great idea. In the next post I plan on providing some of those PBL resource links, if you have not already found them. Afterall, I hope to help you start your own inquiry. Getting better at PBL is known to do that. It  really is engaging!

Thank you for joining me and I hope you found this information usefull to yourself and others.  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. My 2018  calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January and 2019! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Part 2: Ten Reasons for Mapping Out PBL… Scaffolds That Makes Project Based Learning Work

tm1Welcome to part two of mapping a PBL project.   In this series I wish to investigate that “why” and “how” while providing some ideas and resources to support PBL planning. I hope you enjoyed the information on how to scaffold and map a project in the first post. You can read it at this link.  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 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 . Please note I will be at BLC18 in Boston (July) and FETC19 Orlando (January) supporting teachers in PBL and more. See booking info and please contact me anytime at (mjgormans@gmail.com). Thanks so much.  Michael Gorman (21centuryedtech).

In this post I will share both why mapping in PBL is so important and several template ideas you can use based on the scaffold process I have described in the prior post. I sometimes feel that having a map is the difference between doing a project and doing a PBL Creating a map is the front-loading often described when designing PBL Note that not every lesson or activity needs to be designed or completed.  All the map needs are the titles of these learning activities. Once a map is created the products,  lessons, and assessments are tranfered to a calendar. Educators often ask why they should create a map. I thought I would provide ten reasons below.

Ten Reason for creating a scaffold or map for PBL

  1. Provides the teacher the needed intentional organization to make the PBL happen by providing the students and teachers a road map and sense of direction as they go through the project.
  2. Allows teachers to bring transformative and traditional methods together.
  3. Ensures that the standards are facilitated and assessed through the project.
  4. Facilitates individual assessment in and outside the group.
  5. Allows for proper alignment from the beginning question to the final project answer and assessment.
  6. Provides needed benchmarks for learning opportunities and assessments.
  7. Facilitates the movement of the project in a proper and productive timeline providing students and teachers a sense of direction and purpose.
  8. Encourages teachers with the idea of using prior successful lessons honoring past practice and time spent developing such learning opportunities.
  9. Allows teachers to vet a project ensuring lessons and learning activities contain all steps of Blooms Taxonomy and much of Webb’s Depth of learning, along with the 4 C’s (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity).
  10. Allows teachers to use a collaborative document that can be used in both group planning and sharing with others.

I have included a link to a mapping form that I have developed that you can even turn into a Google Form to collaboratively design a PBL with other educators.  You might also want to investigate a powerful template provided at the BUCK Institute (BIE) with  the provided link below.  Refer to the third page of the BIE document.

Resources:

PBL_mapping_template_2018r_mjgormans – Feel free to use this form (Template) to plan and design a PBL unit. It follows the design technique referred to in the first post. Note that the small letters after the word (Lesson) ask you to vet the lessons in reference to Blooms: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating…  (r…u…a…a…e…c). You should have a nice cross section of Blooms. In that same line you will find;  Blocks ( A1234… B1234… C1234… D1234… E1234… F1234… G1234). This refers to the Block  Indicators I have created to support PBL design. Read the entire series. Once again, the lessons should have a nice cross section of these. Remember that PBL must be built with lessons that allow students to have a diverse collection of learning activities.

PBL Road Map Form (Example) 2018 mjgormans – This file provides a look at what a project map may look like when filled out. This was part of a Rube Goldburg Project that I had done with middle school students.

BIE (Buck Institute) – Learn from some of the various best research and planning resources from an orgaization that is a world leader in PBL I have learned so much from BIE and am honored to be a part of their natonal faculty. Take a look at their resource area for this template called the Student Learning Guide. As you look at page three you will see how this can be used to design a PBL  At another link for resources you will find filled out template examples along with other design resources.

I do hope you have a better idea of what a PBL really looks like through the eyes of a designer. As you get better at PBL you will find that the front loading gets easier and you may increase or decrease the structure I have described. It is fun to watch the students take more and more of the ownership, but always remember that this takes careful facilitation on the sideline by the teacher. As you learn to map out PBL you will discover how it really provides a scaffold for all learners allowing for authentic learning that is based on the standards. Enjoy your trip on the PBL treasure map!

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. My 2018  calendar is filling fast. In fact, it might be time to begin thinking about next January and 2019! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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