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.

Conditions that support project learning

Jane Krauss Teacher, curriculum and program developer, author, PBL facilitator, techie

Some essential conditions need to be in place for pbl practices to really take hold and so kids can accomplish marvelous things.

I've been doing some pbl program planning recently and I need your advice. We all know PBL works best when certain conditions are in place. What would you say those essential conditions are? I know teacher characteristics, intentions and methods are key, but outside the teachers and students, what else? I'm starting a list and I wonder if you might add to it. Additionally, sometimes the removal of barriers is important, too.

Essential Conditions for PBL strong implementation

* A school culture that tolerates, even encourages, the sometimes messy chaos of student-directed learning.
* Access to any technologies that support the teaching and learning enterprise
* A system of accountability that causes a teacher to demonstrate --and parents and administrators to understand-- that rigorous learning aims are met though the PBL.
* ?

Remove barriers

* Reconsider when and where learning takes place. Structure some flexibility (oxymoron!) into the school program so spaces and time are less of a limiting factor.
* ?
I appreciate your help!

Comments (34)

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Teacher, curriculum and program developer, author, PBL facilitator, techie

Re: Adonna's remarks

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My previous principal knew what I was doing and said my teaching was exemplary and I raised my students scores, receiving a large cash bonus. After she was gone, [the new principal] did not support this.

MAN! Cash bonus for good and messy PBL? Where did your parting principal go? SHE deserves a cash bonus too! Thanks for your story.

Teacher, curriculum and program developer, author, PBL facilitator, techie

Re: Tom's comments

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There need to be mechanisms/assessments that ensure that students have mastered basic competencies through the PBL learning.

I agree and I think the curriculum mapping process helps assure the teacher and everyone they are accountable to (kids, parents, administrator) that they are on the right track. Lots of good advice for curriculum mapping on the Web and I recommend the process.

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Facilitating PBL to ensure all of the students have mastered their core competencies and completed the project goals is going to require a learning management system that has strong personalization and assessment capabilities, if this type of learning experiences is going to scale.

LMS's can guide the curriculum mapping process as well as track achievement. In the middle is the use of rubrics. Thanks for your ideas, they are right on.

Journalist and PBL advocate

PBL Birds of a Feather

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Jane and I had a chance to talk about this question with a roomful of PBL advocates yesterday at ISTE, where we hosted a PBL Birds of a Feather session. Turnout was great, suggesting strong interest in project-based learning.
Among the suggestions:
--Grow your network of PBL colleagues by inviting other teachers from your school (or beyond) to join a project
--Build buzz for projects by making sure others know about the results you're seeing (and be specific about describing those results)
--Let the students' enthusiasm carry you forward (and help you over the inevitable speed bumps along the way)
Thanks to all who joined us at ISTE--great to see the momentum for PBL!

Lion-Oak Services Ltd. (school-age students), VEC (Adult Education)

Ireland is still a long way

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Ireland is still a long way away from innovative teaching/learning approaches not only because there is less budget for education, but mostly because of some principals/teachers pigheadedness too set in their old ways.

3rd grade teacher from Florida

What's needed? Passion,

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What's needed? Passion, passion, passion. Educators who embrace diversity-really embrace it. Students must feel love and respected. They need to feel in their bones that they are heard even though we might not want to hear what they are saying. Teacher need to feel respected, lifted up by the faculty.

Teacher, curriculum and program developer, author, PBL facilitator, techie

Quote:Ireland is still a long

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Ireland is still a long way away from innovative teaching/learning approaches not only because there is less budget for education, but mostly because of some principals/teachers pigheadedness too set in their old ways.

I've been thinking about teachers' understanding of work environments other than school. It is limited. I propose we institute "Take Your Teacher to Work Day."

8th grade multimedia teach from San Antonio, TX

Creating assessments should

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Creating assessments should be a collaborative endeavor. The teacher lets the students know the basics then allow students to come to a concensus adding their own requiremetns. Students know more about this than you know and generally hold themselves at a higher standard. Besides rubrics I also use checklists. Both of these methods makes grading accurate and efficent.

California Department of Education, CalServe Initative, Program Director

Project Quality Criteria

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While student assessment is critical, I assert that it is more important to ensure that the project is highly engaging to(all)students. The project provides a context for delivering the academic content, other content and the assessment. A project that provides a highly engaging context for the students will result in better student outcomes. This is why youth voice and youth leadership is critically important.

Elementary Media Specialist

" In work the task defines

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" In work the task defines the timeline. In school it's often the other way around!"
Jane, this is so true! How can we change this around in our schools today? As a media specialist I try to connect students with learning that is relevant to them by listening to their questions and pointing them to resources that will help them find answers. I constantly meet with problems from teachers because the answers the students are seeking can not be found in the short time (30 minutes or less) that teachers have allotted for students to explore resources. It is so frustrating!

Teacher, curriculum and program developer, author, PBL facilitator, techie

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[quote]While student assessment is critical, I assert that it is more important to ensure that the project is highly engaging to(all)students. The project provides a context for delivering the academic content, other content and the assessment. A project that provides a highly engaging context for the students will result in better student outcomes. This is why youth voice and youth leadership is critically important.[/quote] I think so too. There's not much worth assessing when students don't engage!

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