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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

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

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

Related Tags: Project-Based Learning
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68 Replies 6167 Views
Hi, 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...

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Dale Glass's picture
Dale Glass
Science Teacher, grades 3-6 in Washington DC

[quote]I plan to begin teaching a project based science class this year. I am very excited about the approach but it all still feels so nebulous! To make matters worse, I have to also teach directly to our state's standardized test at the same time. I would love to hear how others plan to implement their programs and what has worked in the past.[/quote]

I am in the same situation... well-established FOSS curriculum has small projects built-in at the end of each unit; kids are supposed to generate questions all along and then select one for a project to do at the end, but I would like to start the other way around - the question generates the learning and curriculum, but am not sure how to go about it.

I posted a project (Oil&Water) and have started work on it, but have not found any collaborators, probably because it's too standards-specific. My best plan at the moment is to use the project to jump-start the unit, then work on the project 1xweek while continuing to teach the regular lessons the rest of the time.

Any suggestions are welcome!

Suzie Boss's picture
Suzie Boss
Journalist and PBL advocate
Blogger 2014

[quote]well-established FOSS curriculum has small projects built-in at the end of each unit; kids are supposed to generate questions all along and then select one for a project to do at the end, but I would like to start the other way around - the question generates the learning and curriculum, but am not sure how to go about it.

I posted a project (Oil&Water) and have started work on it, but have not found any collaborators, probably because it's too standards-specific. My best plan at the moment is to use the project to jump-start the unit, then work on the project 1xweek while continuing to teach the regular lessons the rest of the time.

Any suggestions are welcome![/quote]

Hi Dale,
I'm going to repost your comment in the PBL Camp Clinic thread and ask our team of experts to weigh in. For starters, you might think about that big list of standards. Instead of aiming for them all in a 3-week project, pick one or two that you want students to explore and understand in depth. And you're on the right track in thinking about generating questions first, then introducing learning activities (i.e., FOSS kits).
Here's a site from another middle-school science teacher who's using the project approach: http://www.takeactioncurriculum.com/
Might give you some good ideas.
Good luck!
~Suzie
P.S. Note to middle-school teachers: Dale has started planning a challenging project that's ripe for collaboration. Join here: http://pblcamp.pbworks.com/Oil-and-Water

Rachel Pickett's picture
Rachel Pickett
10th grade Social Studies

[quote]I am looking for suggestions or a place to start finding ideas for a 4th grade reading class.[/quote]

Maybe your kids could investigate how reading is used in the real world?

Mike Reilly's picture

I have had a great experience in the PBL camp, and I'm 100% committed to it. One lesson learned is if you're working with someone in the classroom , they need involvement from the start. I've been working with PBL campers on some great ideas, but my "live" partner isn't thrilled by our concepts. She needs ownership too. So, we start from scratch today, the kids arrive Monday. Feel free to follow our saga at http://cdat.laniers.org

Mike Reilly's picture

One experiment I plan is grouping by learning styles. I'm going to have all of my PBL kids take the edutopia quiz (http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-learning-styles-quiz), discuss what the categories mean. Then they fill out a Google Form so I can use the resulting spreadsheet to pair them by similarity of style. I just wish there were a good algorithm to help me with this. I'll be posting a blog about it.

John Rheineck's picture

Hi All, I too am starting PBL this year as per a directive from administration. How do we balance some knowledge base that are standards, such as science/balancing chemical equations with driving question projects? Do we have mini seminars on such content? Overall, how do we start with the balance of pbl to direct instruction for students who have had minimal experience with pbl?

Andrew's picture

Hey guys,
I do some work with the Adobe Education Exchange which is an online community for Educators. It's an excellent resource for lesson plan ideas and I thought some of you might be interested in it since many of you are gearing up for the start of a new school year. The AEE is also hosting a contest where members who submit lesson plans during the month of August are entered into a drawing for the Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Collection and other prizes. Check out the site for more info.

Mike Reilly's picture

If Adobe would give kids a 6 - 12 month license instead of 30 days, like Autodesk does, that would help SO much.
[quote]Hey guys,I do some work with the Adobe Education Exchange which is an online community for Educators. It's an excellent resource for lesson plan ideas and I thought some of you might be interested in it since many of you are gearing up for the start of a new school year. The AEE is also hosting a contest where members who submit lesson plans during the month of August are entered into a drawing for the Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Collection and other prizes. Check out the sitefor more info.[/quote]Andre

Mike Reilly's picture

Hi John -
I see the Standards as an asset and challenge. It is my job to teach them. The difference: ask the kids how to do so. I'm starting my first collaborative PBL, digital media with Language Arts (English) for 9th graders. I prioritize the English standards, because my district does. We're starting the year with more "activity-based learning" to get the kids active, responsible. They're not so creative to start the year. The second project starts today, and they do have choices of demonstrating the standards, and method of learning them too. In my AP Comp Sci class, one of my greatest skills was leaving the brilliant kids alone to help each other, stepping in on request. They always passed, mostly with 5, the top score.

[quote]Hey guys,I do some work with the Adobe Education Exchange which is an online community for Educators. It's an excellent resource for lesson plan ideas and I thought some of you might be interested in it since many of you are gearing up for the start of a new school year. The AEE is also hosting a contest where members who submit lesson plans during the month of August are entered into a drawing for the Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Collection and other prizes. Check out the sitefor more info.[/quote]

Andrew's picture

[quote]If Adobe would give kids a 6 - 12 month license instead of 30 days, like Autodesk does, that would help SO much.[/quote]

Hey Mike,

Thanks for the feedback. I will definitely pass it along. In the mean time, just wanted to let you know that students and educators have the ability to purchase Adobe Student and Teacher Editions at up to 80% off. It's a good way to save money if you're a fan of the software.

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