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Constructing a PBL classroom... the first weeks of school

Rachel Pickett 10th grade Social Studies


The beginning of the year is fast approaching! I'm new to PBL and a pretty new teacher and I want to start off the year strong.

I thought we could share effective ways we start the year (curriculum, rules, activities, routines). How do you set up a PBL classroom? What rules and procedures/expectations/routines do you start setting up?

What are your classroom rules? Here are the rules I'm thinking of (they're NOT finalized). I want no more than 3-4. Rules can set students up to develop their abilities to collaborate, communicate, create, and reflect. These abilities are fundamental to PBL.

Here's my stab at creating rules that set up students well. I welcome your critique and wisdom.

- Think from different perspectives
- Speak your mind and listen to others
- Do the right thing even when no one is looking
- Communicate constructively
- Take risks

This discussion can become a resource for PBL classroom structure...

Comments (69)

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curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear Teresa Ryan

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I suggest you visit my High School Geometry Adventure Wikispace, it's free and collaborative...
It's Arts & Crafts and STEM...


Allen Berg

HS Math Teacher/Academic Coach

Math Projects

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Thanks Allen, there's a lot of good stuff there. I think I feel better about the things I have been trying to do and the learning that is actually taking place. I was worried that students wouldn't really "get" the standard concepts, but it seems there are many ways to do this.

Teresa Ryan

Hi Dale, i totally agree with

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Hi Dale,

i totally agree with Suzie...start with the project/problem!!!

I am a STEM focus teacher and we are going to be a wall-to-wall academy opening its doors for the first time in August of 2011. I have been doing lots of research and keep coming back to the idea of PBL. When i put myself back into middle school and try to remember what i learned i still remember facts and processes taught to me in PBL fashion. 30 years is a long time to maintain those memories. In formulating ideas for PBL i try to come from the perspective of the student not from the curriculum. Would i want to sit through this if i was 12? I also run some of my ideas past as many students as i can...they WILL be brutally honest. The one thing that every student has told me is that if they got to start with the project or problem before being introduced to all of the concepts they would be more engaged. They have commented that if they didn't understand something or felt like they needed more information to solve the problem they would be more likely to look for it on their own.

Our state curriculum is also very strict so we are having lots of planning and frustrations in being able to really think differently about instruction and delivery, so i am looking forward to your telling us about your projects and progress


PBL Technology

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Rachel the 2 most important factors in being successful in PBL (in my opinion) is having the right tools and methodology. The point of PBL is not only to teach students about a certain topic, but also to teach them how to work in groups and manage projects. Of course the complexity of the project will vary depending on the age of the student.
Students need to understand how to focus on the objective, communicate with group members, break down the work into tasks etc. After they understand this they need some type of technology which helps them to share, collaborate and get organized. is a completely free resource created for this purpose.

Curriculum developer for K-12

Let's re-visit, how is PBL after the last two years?

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Hi all,

I am hoping that those who participated in this conversation two years ago will be willing to re-visit it today.

These are a few of the issues that surfaced two years ago in discussion. And, not surprisingly, these remain the issues with which new PBL teachers grapple today. Please give us an update!

What do you do NOW to set up your classroom for successful PBL? Do you employ particular rules, protocols, rituals, expectations, etc?

How do you balance direction instruction with PBL?

How do you ensure standards are met with sufficient rigor?

How have your methods w.r.t. PBL changed over the past few years?

1st-5th grade science teacher in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan

Water - Oil Project?

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I'm interested in learning more about this project idea. My school is focusing on a water theme this year and I am exploring a variety of water related project ideas.

1st-5th grade science teacher in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan

PBL planning

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I recently attended a workshop on PBL. You may want to check out Blair Hatch on the web and check out the workshop resources. I found the 10 questions and Critical Friends Protocol very helpful in designing my first official PBL project.

6th grade social studies from Manteo, NC

I teach 6th grade social

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I teach 6th grade social studies (World History from Early Man-1450). This is my first year with this curriculum and I teach large heterogeneous classes. My next unit will be Ancient Egypt , then China. Of course there will be much time spentin Ancient Greece and Rome as well. Any PBL ideas for this age group?
Many Thanks,

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