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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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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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John Steltz's picture
John Steltz
High School English/Language Arts Teacher of Students, Wisconsin

I am starting PBL for the first time this year. I am entering my 15th year of teaching and am anxious, a little overwhelmed, yet extremely excited to execute this new approach in my classroom. Thanks for starting this thread, I hope to learn along with you. Included in the 'rules' you have stated above I would included stressing the importance of individual accountability. Students must understand the significance of their individual responsibilities and the time line of expectations as the project unfolds.

Ann Ballard's picture

I was also relieved to find a collaborative place to begin this PBL journey. There are many resources for completed projects, but the information about beginning the process is overwhelmingly vague. With the stress of where to begin with the project, rules had not even occurred to me. I agree with John; students need to realize that their individual performance affects not only themselves, but their peers and thus the success of the project.

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

Thanks! I wonder how to frame what you're talking about into a rule. Maybe 'build yourself and others up' or 'take responsibility for your actions and your impact'

Have you started planning out the first few weeks yet?

I think a few weeks could easily be spent where I teach and we define these rules...

John Steltz's picture
John Steltz
High School English/Language Arts Teacher of Students, Wisconsin

Rachel-After re-reading your post, I think you have gently hit upon what I stated earlier with your rule of "Do the right thing...when noone is looking". For me, using the term 'accountability'and explaining what that truly means MUST have a big impact.

I have been using projects for all of my units for the past three years. These projects are for all major units and driven by a 'big question'. In some respects I have been using PBL already. In most cases, however, the execution of the entirety of the plan and the end product have not always met my expectations.

I am in the infant stages of planning. We start Sept. 1

Duane Keaton's picture

Hello everyone! I'm hoping for a little help. I read an article in the 2008 Feb/Mar of Edutopia that really got me thinking about Project Based Learning. It was about a high school art class that created masks, statues, and other FX needs for a local company. The art class became a studio with real world projects and real world deadlines. It sounded wonderful. I'm wondering how to do something simliar with my middle school art classes. Any thoughts?
Do any of you have your students create projects for local companies? How did you find the companies to work with you?

Laurie Alsobrook's picture

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.

Dawn Baxter's picture

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

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

If anyone wants to share lesson plans, by all means send me a message. We can critique each others' ideas and plans now to get a good start to the year :)

And if you have projects that have worked in your classroom, I'd love to see how you planned them out.

Also, the Buck Institute has amazing curriculum you can download for free.

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