Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

5pbl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pt 1: Project Based Learning … 5 Misconceptions: Plus… 5 Resources to Raise the PBL Bar

1

I wanted to take a moment to share some of the thoughts I often hear from educators as I travel the country providing PBL Professional Development. I really believe it might be a helpful read for those wanting to make that PBL possibility in their school or district. Before continuing, I would appreciate having you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email and follow me at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network, something that is very magical to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  May your New Year be the best ever as you Make new possibilities for your students! – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

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

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

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

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

Pt 1: Project Based Learning … 5 Misconceptions: Plus… 5 Resources to Raise the PBL Bar

As I travel from state to state providing professional development in regards to Project Based Learning I see a confusion as to what Project Based Learning really is. Comments I constantly hear are phrases such as:

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

These are all misconceptions in the area of Project Based Learning. Let’s take a look at these five areas, and also how we as educators can use PBL as a vehicle for authentic student-centered learning.

  1. I already do PBL by incorporating PBL a project at the end of each unit for learning. – This might be the most common misconception that I hear. In this statement, we need to examine the definition of PBL. The pedagogy of PBL is exactly as is states, Project…. Based… Learning! The project is the foundation for the learning experience. This is quite a contrast to what I see as turning the letters of PBL around to LBP… Learning… Before… Projects. Please understand that while LBP has its place, such as learning reinforcement and performance/portfolio assessment, it is not PBL. The concept behind PBL is to have the learning occur throughout the project in a careful scaffolding manner. Through intentional and careful facilitation by the teacher, the project is used as the teaching/learning tool. Check out this video that explains scaffolding in PBL. Note how the planning for the project is front loaded, complete with project products, learning targets (standards), lessons, and assessment. It really does not require much additional planning, as it requires deliberate planning and design before the start of the project. A good starting place is to take a past project that might be closer to LBP and seeing how it might be reengineered to become closer to real PBL.
  2. I tried PBL and I just did not have time to cover the standards. – This is an understandable problem and can have for several reasons. First, if the teacher is involved in LBP (Learning Before Project) imagine the teaching time followed by students’ project construction time. In this scenario, it is very possible that time could run out. Second, please understand that with PBL teachers sometimes get very enthusiastic as students experience the inquiry process to uncover the standards. (Please note the difference between teachers covering and students uncovering.” This sometimes makes the project become larger than expected in either the planning stage or project stage. One PBL rule I always emphasize is that the project timeline should equal the number of standards taught. It is important that PBL when done right, is standards-based, including content and process skills. It is important that the teacher set a timeline and stay with it. While the pedagogy of PBL may take a little longer, remember to keep time in mind. Last, realize that not every unit has to be PBL based. In some math and even science areas, the content standards may actually be best delivered through PrBL (Problem Based Learning). The question is not as open and the process is somewhat abbreviated. Take a look at a look at possible differences here provided by John Larmer at BIE.
  3. The problem with PBL is that projects cannot teach the standards. – This misconception once again comes from the idea of projects being completed after the learning. In PBL the lessons,  learning targets, and assessment… all represent scaffolding inside the overall project. Standards go beyond learning to actual understanding, as students go through a cycle of learning. These experiences are student-centric with an emphasis on doing. John Dewey stated: “You can have facts without doing, but you can’t have doing without facts”. The process skills, often referred to as the 4C’s or 21st Century Skills, are not only facilitated… but are also assessed. Students experience authentic learning and understanding by the doing, already found in the verbs of most standards. A wonderful resource for the 21st-century skills can be found at P21, the Foundation for 21st Century Learning. Last, keep in mind that the project really isn’t teaching, it is the teacher facilitating and guiding the learning opportunity that the project provides.
  4. My students just cannot get engaged in PBL. – Just because students are taking part in a project, does not guarantee engagement. One way to make sure that PBL is effective is to study the Gold Elements as highlighted by the BUCK Institute (BIE). You can read about them at this link. It is really only when a project contains all of these elements that a project becomes powerful. Perhaps the most important element in our students’ eyes is that of authenticity. It is important that students see the purpose of what they are doing, as they learn. One of the best areas to base a project on is to cross reference standards with local news and current events. It is also important that students own the learning, and  PBL allows for this student ownership. A very first attempt on a project may also require some teacher critique and reflection. Last, culture is the foundation for effective PBL. It is important that teachers build a culture that includes relationship, caring, excitement along with an emphasis on process over product.
  5. I don’t think I can replace traditional teaching with PBL – First, it is hard to define traditional teaching.  As educators reflect they will see many things they have always done fit into the scaffold of PBL. At the same time, there is still a need for a lecture or a really good story, perhaps after an exploration. Students still may have to read a chapter in a book or an article of their choosing. There is still a place for summative assessment that appears as a test or a performance task. This should follow important formative assessment, including even a possible quiz or checkup. Rubrics perhaps become even more important and student input could become invaluable. There is still a place for homework and it is inspiring to see students start asking for it, and even making their own as they get in the flow of a project. A teacher does not have to make up new ideas for projects. Learn how to adjust past projects and even explore ideas on the internet. Take a moment to check this database of projects from West Virginia to explore some more.

As you can see, it might just take a few tweaks to do PBL well! Enjoy the links and discover ways to connect even more to Project Based Learning. As you begin the process, take small steps. Projects do not have to go week in and week out. They can actually be a short as a couple days. Keep in mind that PBL does not have to cross disciplines although transdisciplinary projects can be powerful. A year does not have to be filled with PBL, although lessons should begin to take on and reflect a few of the Gold Standards. I will highlight some of these ideas plus more in some upcoming posts. Also… check out the next 5… in the next post!

Please take a moment to share this post with other educators across the world.  Please accept my offer to you,  which is another year of postings, by subscribing by email or RSS and follow me on Twitter (mjgormans). You will also find a treasure of resources covering 21st-century learning, STEM, PBL, and technology integration for the classroom. Again, take a moment to share this blog and even give it a re-tweet so that other educators can think about building a Maker Culture!  May you find the magic of a Making and Creating in this New Year! Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

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

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15 Ideas To Go Beyond Makers Space… Building a Makers Culture

maker-culture

As a New Year begins we all think about what we can make happen in this New Year. I thought it only appropriate to think about the idea of  Making and Creating in education. In this article, I have some ideas to allow Making and Creating to become part of the school culture.  Before continuing, I would appreciate having you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email and follow me at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network, something that is very magical to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet.  Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  May your New Year be the best ever as you Make new possibilities for your students! – 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, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs, and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Are you going to FETC in Florida? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you!

  • W027: PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • W137: Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content (1/2 day Workshop)
  • C206: PBL, STEM, and Makers Dewey Meets Technology: What Will You Do? (General Session)

Click here to learn more and possibly even discover a discount! I hope to see you in sunny Florida this January!

15 Ideas To Go Beyond Makers Space… Building a Makers Culture

As I travel across the country it is wonderful to see all the schools building a Makerspace somewhere in their school. Each time I see this I am impressed by the educator, or group of educators, trying to make such a space possible for their school. After all,  a Makerspace allows students to imagine, envision, create, innovate, play, learn in a formative manner, simulate, experiment, collaborate, think critically, communicate, share, synthesize,  invent, evaluate, and most of all dream of new possibilities. These are the very verbs that make up the 4 C’s, Blooms Hierarchy, and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. I usually ask those teachers to reflect on the idea of building a space… or building a culture for making and creating. While a space for making might be a wonderful place to start, a culture of making should be a process and goal. Let me further define this difference.

Words are powerful and the way we name an initiative provides the needed synergy and process for ultimate success. A Makerspace is a wonderful place to visit and might actually be the catalyst for a bigger vision. As we look at Makers in a space we see that it has a defined boundary and might even be limited by time. In the world of technology integration, we have often had computer labs and we have worked at bringing this integration from the lab to the entire school. The technology integration has become part of the school culture. While I believe it is wonderful to start with a space for Makers, I also encourage educators to intentionally plan to allow the Maker Concept to become part of the school culture. Those amazing verbs can be part of classroom lessons and projects allowing students to make and do. John Dewey said, ”

John Dewey said, “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.”

Our standards are made of nouns and verbs. As a nation, we have concentrated on the memorization of the nouns, after all, the standardized test did not seem to care about our students doing anything with the nouns. A Maker Culture throughout the school will allow our students to “do” by addressing the verbs, making the nouns understandable, relevant, and authentic. Embracing a Maker Culture can take the standards in our curriculum and make them come alive as students practice the 4 C’s, venture to the top of Blooms, and experience the real depth found in Webb’s.

As you set up or evaluate the Maker movement in your school or district I ask you to think about going beyond space and think about culture. Imagine students having a passionate and informative answer to the question….”What did you do in school today?” Please reflect and possibly take some action with the fifteen ideas I have below. Use them as a vetting procedure, a filter, or an action plan.  Enjoy the amazing and rewarding journey, as you Make and Create possibilities for your students!

15 Ideas 

  1. Keep in mind that Maker’s is a way of thinking, and not just the place or space. – With this in mind, the Maker Concept can occur anywhere and anytime. It can be in a dedicated space, or room, or in the library. It can be in the classroom, or possibly be a set of materials that can be brought out to students anytime.  The real idea is to promote a Maker thought process that facilitates innovation, creative thinking, and self-learning throughout the school day.
  2. Make it part of the curriculum – It does not have to be a separate time but instead can be integrated into the curriculum. While an after school program is wonderful, why not bring it into the classroom by carefully connecting the idea of Making with the curricular material. Keep in mind that the final product should demonstrate learning.
  3. Promote significant content and standards – Provide students with important learning targets that are connected to the content being learned. Allowing students to make, while also emphasizing important standards can be powerful and effective. The act of making allows students to do and sets the foundation for understanding. In fact, a collaborative effort with groups of students can allow for discussions that lead to deeper understanding and retention.
  4. Reinforce authenticity and relevance – Genuine learning is connected to the real world. Don’t let final projects be landfill material. How can the products be useful in the real world? How can these products bring real meaning and promote student rigor and grit as they work?
  5. Promote those important success skills – Often referred to as 21st-century skills, it is important to use the Maker’s culture to both facilitate these skills and assess them. Go beyond the 4 C’s of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. What are the subsets of the skills and how can you provide time for students to not only practice the skills but also process them?
  6. Encourage the iterative process of learning – In this day of instant gratification and solutions, students need to learn that solutions and design do not happen in a short time period. It is important to allow for multiple drafts as students work toward a successful outcome. We must allow students to face a setback, attempt a hurdle, and practice persistence until satisfying and quality work is the final outcome.
  7. Allow for important metacognition -John Dewey stated that doing leads to important thinking, that in turn promotes genuine learning. Students must not only think about the process, but also journal, assess, and have conversations with others throughout the project. This will allow for a learning and understanding that is owned by the individual. This ownership transfers to genuine learning!
  8. Provide opportunities for student voice and choice – As you might know, the concept of a genius hour is quite popular. Based on the concept of the Google 20% program, students should be provided time to learn and make in regards to their interest. This can still be standards based as students write and use research skills. Of course, important 21st-century skills can also be assessed. Allowing for this could pave the way for important career pathways.
  9. Facilitate self-direction and regulation – A Maker’s culture allows students to set goals and provide both a timeline and method to make it happen. It allows students opportunities to learn on their own, or in small groups, often exploring ways that can make this happen. It is a wonderful way to promote lifelong learning.
  10. Align it to existing initiatives – How can the Maker’s culture work with other important programs and initiatives in the school. Perhaps it fits into PBL, STEM, 1 to 1, or particular school goals. It can provide an avenue to reach those 21st-century skills and can be used to reinforce important power standards.
  11. Provide 4 C’s Assessment – If you are facilitating the 21st-century skills (Four C’s), how are you assessing them? Are your students aware of the assessment and how to perform? While you want to assess the nouns in your standards, make sure to also include the verbs!
  12. Use the culture to promote Bloom and Webb – A Maker Culture provides the ultimate environment to incorporate Blooms Hierarchy and  Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. Students are provided time, process, and metacognition to truly understand the content.
  13. Continue to Assess Learning in multiple ways – While providing a classroom Maker’s culture, feel free to provide some assessment that is traditional including tests and quizzes. While standardized testing will change, it is probably not going away. At the same time look for ways to bring some performance-based assessment to the final grade.
  14. Balance the Learning – While students are Making, hold them accountable for the content. Make sure the doing represents real learning and students understand and explain standards. A classroom of doing must be based on substantial content.
  15. Bring Maker Culture to the Inservice – If people learn best by doing, then incorporate Maker ideas in a PD session. How can the Making of deliverables help teachers understand the concept of the in-service? Professional Development should allow for doing! It must be a model of what learning should look like in the classroom.

Please take a moment to share this post with other educators across the world.  Please accept my offer to you,  which is another year of postings, by subscribing by email or RSS and follow me on Twitter (mjgormans). You will also find a treasure of resources covering 21st-century learning, STEM, PBL, and technology integration for the classroom. Again, take a moment to share this blog and even give it a re-tweet so that other educators can think about building a Maker Culture!  May you find the magic of a Making and Creating in this New Year! 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, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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Authentic Project Based Learning… Santa Believes in PBL… Do You?

pbl_north_pole

Did you know that Santa believes in Project Based Learning? It’s true… in fact, I have worked quite hard at finding evidence that supports this conclusion.  Upon further reflection, it occurred to me that not only does Santa believe in PBL, he practices many of its positive attributes at his workshop. By now you are thinking… what is this connection? Let me explain my reasoning by giving you an overview some of the essential elements in PBL.  Of course, I will attempt to show you how I believe Santa has put these elements into his practice.  Before continuing, I would appreciate having you take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or email and follow me at (mjgormans). Taking that moment ensures that we can continue to network, something that is very magical to me. Also, please share this post with others and even provide a re-tweet. Check the provided  BIE link for some great free material on PBL and some awesome PD services offered by BIE … of which I am on the National Faculty. Last, please check my Booking Page to see how I could be part of your school PD or Conference plans.  May your holidays be filled with magic! – 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, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs, and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

Are you going to FETC in Florida? Check out my sessions! I would enjoy meeting you!

  • W027: PBL Splash A Look at Project Based Learning (1/2 day Workshop)
  • W137: Beyond the Initial Technology Shine: Developing Lessons that Promote 21st Century Skills and Significant Content (1/2 day Workshop)
  • C206: PBL, STEM, and Makers Dewey Meets Technology: What Will You Do? (General Session)

Click here to learn more and possibly even discover a discount! I hope to see you in sunny Florida this January!

Authentic Project Based Learning… Santa Believes in PBL… Do You? – Mike Gorman  https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com

It all started on a recent visit I had the pleasure of taking to the North Pole.  It was actually a once in a lifetime experience, one that I will always remember. While I promised Santa I would not divulge secrets I discovered, he did hand me a manuscript and gave me a wink. I could see the amazing sparkle in his eyes as he waited for me to discover a power he was already aware of. I looked at the cover of this torn and faded, yet delightful looking, old book.  I could tell it had been constantly used due to the lack of North Pole magical dust on its soon to be engaging pages.  I spent the next few hours looking through a wonderful collection of written journals. This manuscript was entitled “The Santa Projects”.  How did he know my yearning to learn more about projects?  I then remembered that, of course, I was sitting in front of Santa. He probably had quite a database of everything I had ever dreamed of or desired from my very first teddy bear. Here was a compilation of all of the important projects ever done at this amazing place… at the top of the world. Here were the projects that Santa had brought to his entire staff in order to engage, motivate, educate, and provide means of collaboration and communication. The first project caught my eye. I couldn’t help but smile as I read each of Santa’s journal entries. Allow me to share one of his projects with you.

The Santa Projects –

Project Name – Mission Possible…. The Big Delivery

Need To Know – (An outstanding project is based on a student need to know. It is this desire that promotes engagement and excitement in children. It provides the motivation for learning significant content.)  Santa Notes – It will be important to communicate with all of the elves and various staff my desire to travel the world in one night delivering toys to all of the good girls and boys. We will have a meeting, record everything in Santa Docs, based on what we will need to know to make this mission possible. As we answer these important questions I will mark them off our collaborative list. I anticipate a few questions such as,  “Given that the earth is rotating… how many hours do we really have for our trip?”

The Driving Question – (The Driving Question is the key to any effective PBL project.  This question must be direct and open a student-centric understanding of what is to be eventually accomplished and learned. While giving the students a sense of mission, it is proactive and open-ended.)  Santa Notes – After working with various teams we have decided that a good driving question could be as follows: How can we devise a plan to deliver presents to all the good children in the world in one night? I know this will be exciting for the elves and I am sure the reindeer will be clamoring to get their hoofs into it. I am certain our journey to finding this answer will not only raise more questions but will also provide the rigor my staff thrives on.

Voice and Choice – (An effective project must allow for all students to have a voice and a choice. This might allow students to pick an area of study or may give a selection of various final products to demonstrate learning. This voice and choice allow the project to have individual meaning and relevance to each student.) Santa Notes – I must allow all of the workers at the North Pole to participate in a meaningful way while holding them accountable to the Driving Question. Who knows what contribution each group and individual might be able to come up with. In fact, I have already heard that my engineers are drawing a picture of a sleigh. Not sure I know why, but maybe I will learn from them.

21st Century Skills – (Students must be allowed to use skills that are authentic and provide real world opportunities. Teachers must provide learning opportunities and facilitate important skills including collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. It is important to also assess these skills as part of PBL.) Santa Notes – I plan to utilize team building activities to help facilitate project success. At the North Pole, we must realize that in order to pull off this miracle it will involve a collective wisdom from the entire crowd. We will use modern North Pole technology including Santa Docs, Twinkler, and Elfmodo to collaborate. In fact, I noticed the elves are already building a new system “The Magic Net”. It is supposed to connect the North Pole with the entire world of children’s desires. I am not sure why, but I am sure I will learn from them.

Inquiry and Innovation – A good PBL study will allow students to not just come up with answers… but also discover new and amazing questions. This will allow students to think outside the box as they remix, create, and innovate. It assures a final product that shows the learning that was acquired from the initial Driving Question.) Santa Notes – Everyone at the workshop is finding out that there is not an easy answer to our Driving Question. It seems we are getting more questions than answers right now. I have encouraged our staff to use Santapedia and NorthPoleOogle but they say it does not always give the answer… again more questions. I have told everyone to tinker… something they have experience with at the toy shop. They did come up with a new gift they called Tinkertoys which could be a hit. I had to get them back on track. Outside, I have noticed the reindeer jumping from the fir trees and one is even playing with a red light bulb. I know it seems very hectic… but I do feel we might be on to something.

Feedback and Revision – (Students must be allowed to obtain feedback through critiques from their teacher, peers, real world mentors, and themselves. Through this, students must learn to reflect and revise to create a better product as they travel a road of formative assessment.) Santa Notes – I am finding myself encouraging all my workers to reflect and critique themselves and others. This is can be more valuable than always using one of my NPARs (North Pole Assessment Rubrics). In fact, I saw the engineer and elves constantly critiquing each other on what they called OBETB (Operation Big Enough Toy Bag). Perhaps if I do a little check with one of my formative assessment rubrics I will find out what that is all about.

Publicly Present The Product – (Providing students with a public and authentic audience is crucial in the design of a good PBL learning unit. It brings meaning and provides motivation for a final product that represents the quality and rigor that should be expected. This audience can be face to face or could be virtual using the World Wide Web.)  Santa Notes – I am so excited for the workers here at the North Pole. Tomorrow night they will be presenting their plan for Mission Possible…. The Big Delivery to a live audience of the North Pole Geographic  Society, Magic Bag Engineers, Animal Aviator Experts, Portable Light Bulb Innovators, The Association of Sleigh Vehicle Workers, and NEXRAD.  It will all be available on Santa Vision. Having all of these experts in the audience will ensure that all involved will take great pride in their work while demonstrating what they have learned and have now made possible.  I am still puzzled as to why we have invited the Animal Aviator Experts and NEXRAD. Sound like a high flying idea!

Significant Content – (A PBL final outcome should provide evidence that students learned the required content set forth by curricular standards. While the 21st-century skills are important… they should complement and be used as tools for learning this content. The project is the process!) Santa Notes – Wow… while everyone has become better communicators, collaborators, and critical thinkers I see that the important concepts needed to make this project a success have become a reality. All of the workers, elves, and animals understand the important North Pole curricular concepts of magical engineering, animal aviation and linguistics, possibility planning, and bottomless bag technology. Most of all, they have discovered the wonderful skill of miracle manicuring. I really do believe in PBL!

As I was sitting in front of Santa there were two more elements that appeared before me like magic. I read the text as fast as it appeared. He looked at me as he winked and smiled… as if he was about to go up a chimney. I soon realized he had even been aware of some of the new ideas found in the new Gold Standards. Of course, he was aware! I continued to read with delight as I discovered even more amazing magic!

Reflection (It is this process that demands the important skill of metacognition. It is not until a learner thinks about the learning… that real learning takes place. Educators must allow students time to reflect as they build their own understanding of important content and concepts.)  Santa Notes – I have always enjoyed the work of John Dewey… after-all he was always on my good list. I encourage all the workers at the North Pole to reflect on what they learn while as they build and innovate on all the products at the workshop! It is amazing to see all the learning that takes place as we constantly create a wonderful experience for all the boys and girls throughout the world!

Authenticity – ( It is important that students have an authentic learning experience that is meaningful. Allowing students to make a difference to their surroundings and the world outside the classroom is essential. Education must be real and provide the students that important… so what… to learning.) Santa Notes – Authenticity might be one of the most important qualities we promote. After-all like PBL… the North Pole experience is about making it real!

As I handed this precious manuscript back to Santa,  I thanked him for confirming my belief in how powerful a project can be. Upon my return, I continued to learn more about Project Based Learning and discovered the power it has for providing authentic and powerful learning experiences for students. This knowledge just might be the very best gift I ever received from Santa. I’m still smiling as I recall the other projects I read about in the wonderful book on my very special visit. Projects with names like the ones you find below.

  1. I Can Get Down the Chimney… How Do I Get Up?
  2. The Big Blizzard… Can We Find a Way to Light the Path?
  3. Conquering the 24 Hour Cookies and Milk Dilemma!
  4. Reindeer… Keeping their Minds to the Ground!
  5. Making and Keeping It Real!

I hope you enjoyed this very special message that Santa shared with me. Please take a moment to share this post with other educators across the world.  Please accept my present to you,  which is another year of postings, by subscribing by email or RSS and follow me on Twitter (mjgormans). You will also find a treasure of resources covering 21st-century learning, STEM, PBL, and technology integration for the classroom. Again, take a moment to share this blog and even give it a re-tweet so that other educators can experience the magic of PBL. May you find the peace, joy, blessing, and magic of this very special season… and to all a good night! 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, and the 4 C’s. I have delivered hundreds of workshops and presentations. Check out my Booking Page.  Please contact me soon if you have an interest. I am now almost booked through April. Perhaps you need to think about summer conference dates or PD needs and it is not too early to think about the 2017/18 school year! Look for contact information at the Booking Site.

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