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1st/2nd grade teacher

My school uses PBL and is

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My school uses PBL and is gearing up for our Culminating Event in a couple of weeks. As we prepare our final projects it is always nice to have clear ideas for communicating the expectations for quality work. I found your ideas very helpful and really enjoyed watching the video Austin's Butterfly. Thanks for the great suggestions and the many resources for further exploration!

2nd Grade teacher

I agree this article had

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I agree this article had great insight on how to implement PBL. I like the idea of creating a "culture of quality." Many times we hear that it is important to create a culture within our schools but how? I like the idea of celebrating excellence by displaying students works of excellence around the schools. Great ideas thanks for sharing!

High School Science Teacher

At the high school that I

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At the high school that I teach at I have embraced the PBL methodology as a means to increase student intrinsic motivation to learn. This inquiry-based model of instruction and learning is engaging for the students and it greatly contributes to their academic success. Please check out my blog to read about some of the avenues of learning I have pursued as a high school science teacher.

Reading Specialist, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Thank you for this post!

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Thank you for this post! This is the hot topic right now at our academy and I am so excited to share this and your article "8 Essential Elements of PBL" with my colleagues. We are a very small school who focuses on Africana Studies and all of our projects this year are to incorporate New Mexico History from the Africana Studies perspective. This is no easy task without a lot of research and assistance from the department at University of New Mexico.
Our question to every lesson, project, or reading is "so what?" asking for the relevance to our focus.
I particularly appreciate the questions referring to motivation and assessment. We are working on these particular components of project building this week at our staff meeting.

Editor in Chief at the Buck Institute for Education

Esther, Nice blog on SPED

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Esther, Nice blog on SPED students in a PBL-like setting - although you don't call it a project, it sure sounds like one. The process of generating student questions you describe resembles what BIE calls the "Entry Event" and "Need to Know List." The Right Question Institute is a great resource.

Ed.M candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Ed; NYC Special ed teacher

A powerful yet simple

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A powerful yet simple strategy to teach kids (even with learning differences in special ed classrooms) to feel empowered and engaged. This strategy can be used to introduce topics, to engage children, or to launch off any projects or lessons.

One change makes all the difference! Need I say more?

Wow, there were so many great

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Wow, there were so many great ideas in this post. I am trying to implement PBL in my classroom and have had many discussion with my principal over your five different tips. It was great to see another viewpoint. My favorite was using the rubrics and showing students quality work, but using a different subject to demonstrate. This was one problem I was running into because I did not want my students to imitate what they saw.

Again, thanks for so much insight into PBL.

Great article & will be great

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Great article & will be great for future reference. I have always talked about using rubrics more than I do. After this article, I will be using rubrics for much more assignments.

Editor in Chief at the Buck Institute for Education

Thanks Gloria, great link. I

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Thanks Gloria, great link. I almost added a paragraph to my post about how students can create rubrics, but this piece from High Tech High says it very well. And yes, it would be later in the project - although I'd put this practice on the "advanced" end of the PBL scale.

Teacher, Writer, and Artist


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Casual observers saw the flag controversy pitting the “fergit” crowd against the “fergit, hell” crowd.

—Georgia Odyssey, by James C. Cobb

They have said to me that they’ll never look at a flag the same way again. They have said to me that now they’ll pay more attention to what a flag might communicate, represent, and symbolize.

I’m tearing up. I really am.

They have also said to me that since they have a better feel for what a well-designed flag looks like then they’ll speak up and tell anybody who’ll listen when they see any flag anywhere and at any time about the elements of the flag that could be changed and made more balanced and logical and communicative.

It’s what vexillologists do.

Flags are eagerly presented from the front of the room. Snap says the red on his flag represents him getting better at baseball because he’s been trying hard. The picture of him used as a charge in the canton is of him in the dugout during a baseball game.

Montene says the crucifix represents her love of Jesus.
Milo says the picture of the nose on his flag represents his concern for his sister who wants to get a nose job. Milo says the meaning of a hammer about to smash his alarm clock glaring the hideous time of 6:30 should be pretty obvious.

Hap’s flag represents a place he’d like to live in and rule called Haptopia.

Beauregard didn’t have a name for a new world represented by his funky flag, but Beauregard says it would be more of a kingdom and he’d be the ruler of the kingdom.

Albert had a near perfect flag. Elegant and simple, the way professional vexillologists like a flag. Albert had drawn a heart and inside the heart symbol it said Brandi + Albert. As simple as that.

We asked Albert if he loved Brandi, who goes to another school.

He said he did.

I asked Albert if Brandi loved him back.

Albert said he was pretty sure she did.

I asked Albert if wanted to keep his flag.

Albert said yes and he wasn’t embarrassed one bit as he carried it back to his desk.

Click’s bi-color flag was elegant and simple, too. Click didn’t have to, but he wrote his explanation out so when he presented his flag to us he would remember all the details and get them right. I’d say he did present it right, on deeper levels of vexillology than he might possibly realize. In Click’s words …

“My flag of choice for this assignment is a two banded horizontal bi-color design. The ratio of my flag is roughly 1:2 because my flag is of a rectangular shape. On my flag I have the colors yellow and green and together they represent my active lifestyle. Green represents my love of the outdoors along with my lifetime wilderness experience and practice of survival skills. The main purpose that my flag serves is that the flag I have come up with represents the things in my life that I enjoy being a part of and experiencing for a lifetime to come. The way I decided my flag to be positioned is yellow for the top color because that is the part of me that I think means the most, and on the bottom I have green for my secondary love for adventure. Yellow symbolizes my friendly, peaceful approach to people and who I respect and care for.”

Click, outstanding job, you vexillologist human being 14 year old whacky kid who I have always liked a lot. I’ll offer to you what I think might be the greatest sign of respect and appreciation for a flag and what it represents, communicates, and symbolizes … your flag, Click … and that’s saluting it. I salute your flag and I salute you and Albert, too, my real good vexillologists.

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