project-based learning

Deeper learning

1Comment tail

Five Keys to Deeper Learning

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Authors

Driving Question: What Helps Teachers Enrich Learning Through Project-Based Learning (PBL)?

When talking with teachers who have the freedom to plan their lessons and projects so that students make many choices about what, how, and when they learn, this driving question is unnecessary. These teachers know and do what it takes to promote the work the thoughtful students do. They also know the benefits.

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Raising their hands

Seven Ways to Give Students Freedom to Learn From Mistakes

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Assessment

Driving Question:  How can I help students learn from their mistakes?


“So let’s talk now about what you can do differently in your next project,”  Mr. Pecht asked.  “This review is the most important part of this project. Tell me what you would do.”

“We hadn’t thought about that,” Rosalea answered. “Those are just usually red marks that lower our grade.”
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hitting the target

Toward Deeper Learning With Personal Targets

Categories: Instruction

Driving Question: How Deep Can Students Dive with Personal Learning Targets?

At the pool last month during vacation in Cabo, I met a retired state school superintendent. It didn’t take long to figure out that retirement was the best place for him. “Learning,” he said, “is not important. What I did was make sure that the test scores were there. That’s what still makes everyone happy.” He didn’t mention children as members of his everyone club. Read more

What do students need to know?

Knowing What Students Need to Know

Categories: 21st Century Skills

Driving Question: How do PBL teachers fill in what students’ need to know?

Politicians may act on the age-old security principle of “need-to-know.” “Some people need to know what I am saying and some don’t.”

The current classroom use of the term need-to-know is a bit different. Need-to-know marks the time when a skillful PBL teacher, guiding from the side, includes strategies to identify what students “need-to-know” to accomplish the project’s objectives.  Sometimes, she can predict and plan how to intervene; other times she has to read the scene and make a judgment call about filling in missing pieces in the puzzle.

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Growth in science

PBL, Next Gen Exams and Bringing Science Alive

Categories: 21st Century Skills

In this morning’s paper, a full spread page read “Shifting how science is taught”. (Rado, 2015)

The article examined what is likely to happen as states begin federally mandated testing this school year for the Next Generation Science Standards. I think the responses are rather predictable:

  1. Many educators will holler and scream “What!? More Federal tests?”
  2. Others will smile and say “It’s about time.”
  3. A few school districts will ignore the mandate, doing business as usual by teaching science out of obsolete textbooks, if at all. They will say “We don’t have money to get teachers ready” and “We don’t have time. We are doing Common Core.”
  4. Many other districts will take a half-hearted approach. They will hold one-day institutes to hand out new materials or two-day work sessions to review the new standards. They will say  “Go now, and do what you need to.”
  5. Another group will take the mandate seriously and consider what’s needed to ready students for the new science assessments. They will understand that the new tests highlight performance– including on-the-computer performance– over single answer multiple guess questions of the past. After presenting a statement of the concept, the performance requirements will follow:
  • 5th grade: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers and the environment.
  • 8th grade: Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
  • 10th Grade: Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results for those four factors (given in the statement of the problem. (Rado, 2015)

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