Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Project Based Learning Pro D Results at Sullivan Heights

Sullivan Heights looked into Project-Based Learning for our Professional Development day on Feb. 8th and in the research of this area I have found a number of things that I would like to share from:

This first video comes from Edutopia, explaining Project- Based Learning.  It was my intro video right after I did the KWL for the teachers to recall everything they heard/learned about PBL, as well as think about what they wanted to learn.  See below.

The bases is that we need to teach 21st Century Skills of:
  • communication
  • collaborate work
  • critical thinking
to our students, something lacking in the old way of teaching:
  • lecture
  • take notes
  • test at the end.

Below is an introduction to PBL

Some web sites with examples of Project Based Learning

Here are handouts for specific projects developed by others.
You can use these as examples for your group.

The following are articles I have read in regards to learning how to do an effective Project Based Plan.

If you're new to Project-Based Learning, Andrew Miller eases you into the approach with four suggestions to help you stay sane and begin mastering PBL.

The Files I used During the Presentaiton

Attached are some files and handouts given to teachers on that day, as well as the PowerPoint I created for the Professional Development Day.  In total it took me over 28 hours to develop this professional development plan, but so far (3 weeks after the Pro D day) with a group of 20 at the session there have been 5 people who have developed a project or are in the process of developing one.  In my mind, this makes it a successful attempt.  Out of the rest, 3 people asked for the files (I burned all files onto a CD for easier sharing with staff, each member getting their own CD of files), and a teacher from another school asked for a copy (she heard me talking about the process of developing the professional day.

If you wish I can send you the complete package of files, powerpoint that was shown and the movies as well, but please remember, all this material is a combination of many people and company's work online so please give them credit where credit is do.  They did an excellent job.
  • KWL sheet - I started the session by asking teachers what do they know about Project Based Learning.  I asked them to fill out what they wanted to know.  Then at the end I asked them to go through what they wanted to know and cross off what they know, and ask others some of the ones left or even ask me.  Great intro to the day.  After this I showed the first movie in this blog entry.
  • The PowerPoint I put together with the help of many sites (listed at the end of the presentation and above).
  • Project Overview - a two page worksheet to help you create your PBL work.  In the presentation we got to this sheet in the afternoon, and I would explain each section (I worked backwards for backward planning), then gave time for the listeners to work on that section.  I found these sheets extremely helpful to help organize my thoughts. 
  •  Or you can use this one (I like this one better) because it has a "Driving Question" to get the students going.   
  •  PBL Starter Kit has a Project Overview completed so you can use this as an exemplar, what we looked at first before going into each section of the blank one.  This was very successful with teachers.  
  • To help with the planning there is a simple PBL Essential Elements Checklist from the Buck Institute of Education.  This form helps at the end to make sure when you create your project you have all the components needed for a successful project.
  • A more elaborate rubric for making sure you have all the components of a great Project is on this link.  Take a look for a comparison.
One of the hardest things to do is come up with that essential question.  I gave out samples from different educational facilities I found online.  We discussed their essential questions.  Some teachers used those.  
  • From the Creative Educator things to consider when creating an essential question
  • A rubric to help you create and review Curriculum-Framing Questions.
  • I also used the exemplars (linked above) to hand out so staff may see what an essential question should look like.  Even better, some used the questions already developed.
Handouts for both Teachers and Students.
  • Project Group Contract.  You can use this one or make your own.  It shows your expectations of working in a group, promising to work just as hard as others and to cooperate.  
  • Project Calendar for both students and teachers to use for planning of what needs to be done where.  Great for organization.
  • Project Manager Group Tasks is for the entire group to work on.  Helps to organize the group and brain storm what needs to be completed, even what order to be completed by.
  • Team Tasks Sheet - by to give to members to help with their planning and organizing.  It also gives the teacher a central location to see where students are at, and what they have left to do.  You can give formative assessment any time just looking at this sheet ("have you thought about this" or "don't forget to consider this...").
For assessment you have
  • Collaborate Rubric by
  • A rubric for making rubrics.
  • Project Work Sheets (individual ones) for assessment of what the student has done - to track them being on task.  You can compare this with the team task sheet. You can use this sheet and give the students 10 - 15 minutes at the end of each period/class to complete or you can have students do this in a journal, or even a blog or wiki online.
  • Teacher Post-Project Review - to assess how the entire process went, and to help you consider what changes to make right away.  Excellent outline to do.
  • If you wish for your students to peer assess I recommend you show them the video below to help the students understand what constructive critisim is. It is a video by Ron Berger on Critque Examples.

During the Presentation you have the following assessment tools:

Finally, but just as important to use is a video below, showing the top ten tips for assessing Project-Based Learning once you try it.

I hope this has helped.  If anyone in Surrey School District or the Lower Mainland would like to discuss this further please do not hesitate to contact me at  I would love to help you introduce your school to Project Based Learning.  It has made an impact at our school, and under the advice of many of the articles and research, some are trying it once, then assessing the results.  You'll be seeing exemplars and blog entries on this topic from other teachers soon.  

Thank you.

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