Project learning can inspire the best of high-performance teamwork, or it can be devolve into unfocused chaos. How can we support each other to keep our eye on the prize? Share your project ideas, questions, and implementation experiences.

New Year, New Projects

Suzie Boss Journalist and PBL advocate

What new projects are you planning for 2012? Anyone piggybacking on the Presidential election for a social studies, English, media, or math/statistics project?
By comparing notes with others in this community, you may find some new collaborators or resources you hadn't considered. And if you're new to PBL, this is a good place to connect with veterans who can offer feedback to improve your project plans.
So, please tell us about your ideas to ignite learning in the new year.

Comments (16)

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7th grade biology teacher in Lompoc, CA

We will start genetics in my

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We will start genetics in my 7th grade biology class. Brainstorming now what the project will be... Any suggestions? :)

7th grade biology teacher in Lompoc, CA

Screencast

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Definitely want to include team screencasts...

Journalist and PBL advocate

Cross Disciplinary Opportunities?

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Hi Pam,
I saw a good project last year students where students investigated genetically modified foods and wound up challenging vending machine snack food options.
Good cross-disciplinary opportunities with this topic, too. Love to hear how you decide to approach it.

7th grade biology teacher in Lompoc, CA

Inquiry Based Lab

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GMO's are definitely an interesting topic. I will be assigning student teams different research topics and one team will be covering GMO. What I'm looking for is a project in which student teams design an experiment that they can perform in our classroom lab. Call it a "partial" inquiry lab in which I give some parameters. I will have them showcase their results on a student created webpage. This time I want to include a team screencast.

Emeritus Faculty in the School of Engineering / University of Connecticut

More Than Meets The Eye

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May I suggest a some what general notion for a ny project? It always seems to me that any idea - from the development and application / use of sustainable energy to the messages of newly published literature to the impact of unexpected sources on the unfolding of a current event to the "what if" implications of some change in detail of unfolding history - provides all the information gathering / understanding, the brainstorming, the critical thinking, the sense of curiosity, the innovation, the teaming experiences, the engagement in interdisciplinary considerations, and the experience of documenting / communicating outcomes that are sought in any PBL projects.

I am also very much in favor in student team selection / development of the actual project objective(s). Thus, rather than providing the project objective, I'd send the student teams to the local daily newspapers, the various "age-appropriate" best seller lists to the history books to do that effort. The team proposed project enables the teacher to insure the project is rich enough to enable satasfactory outcomes, the project is too ambitious such that it either demands too much effort or almost insures poor outcomes, or the project is simply a redo of already available efforts.

And this idea I'd suggest is appropriate for any grade level through careful attention to the expected outcomes of the effort.

Hope these ideas although general in nature are of value in planning upcoming projects. Hope to interact with you again Tuesday evening on #pblchat.

Journalist and PBL advocate

PBLChat

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Hi John,
Thanks for sharing your ideas for bringing more student voice to the project selection process. That's such an important element for making sure students are engaged. As you wisely point out, student-driven projects also need to meet academic requirements that the teacher has established.
Look forward to joining you and others at tonight's #PBLchat.
For newcomers to #PBLchat: It starts at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST, on Twitter. Just follow the #pblchat hashtag and jump into the discussion. Tonight's topic: new year's goals/resolutions for the PBL classroom. See you there! (Find me on Twitter @suzieboss)

7th grade biology teacher in Lompoc, CA

Reluctance...

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One of the reasons I've been reluctant to do problem based learning is the rigorous content I feel my students need to at least be exposed to before entering high school. The thought of "letting students choose" what they want to learn perplexed me. I thought how can I cover the content in this way. So I continued with the typical stand and deliver method to cover content.

What I'm doing now, I feel, is allowing me to bring an element of inquiry into the classroom while still covering content. When I assign research topics, I do not consider that inquiry. When I assign a lab in which students design an experiment, that I consider "partial inquiry."

Emeritus Faculty in the School of Engineering / University of Connecticut

Don't Be Reluctant, Just Lead

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A few thoughts on you post, Pam:

1. With regard to student engagement, it's not suggested to give the students complete control. Choose the project leading question such that they will propose projects fitting with the important content areas. Then, when they submit their proposals, mold them in conversations with the group to again align with intended content (note I didn't say change it yourself but help the do the changes - and ask for a new proposal if totally off).

2. With regard to that rigorous content, may I suggest direct efforts to sort out the CORE KNOWLEDGE from the rigorous content. I define core knowledge as that knowledge necessary to talk with others, ask questions, and be able to work with the answers (NOT I'd suggest the appropriate standards necessarily). Spend time on core knowledge content (but maybe not as much as you may think). The inquiry will firm up the core knowledge, motivate the effective learning of the remaining rigorous content (and more), and help them learn how to organize inquiry.

3. May I suggest that ALL lab work will be better if it's full inquiry.

4. Finally, if you are reluctant with inquiry, try it with a few topics at first and expand from there. Don't be concerned with not having all the answers - learn with your students; they'll love it!

I detected concern about covering material with at least a small concern about facilitating inquiry. I'm sure you know more than the core knowledge and so relax and enjoy the experiences. If I'm wrong about these inferences, my apologies ...

7th grade biology teacher in Lompoc, CA

Guided Inquiry

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I was reading Ramsey Musallam's Flip Teaching website today and noticed he uses the phrase "guided inquiry." I think that better describes what I'm doing in my classroom regarding lab.

Again, I posted here looking for ideas for inquiry labs. If anyone has any, I'd love to hear them.

Journalist and PBL advocate

Inquiry Resources

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Hi Pam,
A couple resources you might find useful:
West Virginia has an extensive library of projects, which are searchable by grade level and subject area. Here's one that deals with genetics, introducing the topic with a "baby face lab" to introduce key concepts(handouts included). http://wveis.k12.wv.us/teach21/public/project/Guide.cfm?upid=3371&tsele1...
The Exploratorium is another good site for inquiry ideas. Here's their resource page: http://www.exploratorium.edu/IFI/resources/
Hope these are useful.

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