Day 107 (of 190) GLEF –> @Edutopia (a PBL webinar) #LearningWeNeed Edutopia.org thanks for leading todays session @annmariebaines
I was a huge fan of GLEF and it’s first magazine. Now, most know GLEF as it’s evolved name: Edutopia. But it started as the George Lucas Education Foundation with a magazine – I probably have issue #1 hidden away somewhere….
Anywhere, GLEF/Edutopia have long been my go-to resources on my own journey to and through PBL – Project Based Learning – an amazing tool to personalize learning and engage the key competencies in learning journeys…. and today, we had George Lucas himself open a webinar around “Learning We Need: The Case for Rigorous Project-Based Learning”.
It is because hundreds of people have worked on PBL, there is research that shows that this approach works – along with a big thank you to those who have tried using PBL and seen it help students be successful in their learning! I remember GLEF wondering how many would be interested – and I heard 16,000 educators signed up for the webinar!
PBL helps with equity. It helps with engagement. It provides ownership. To ground us: PBL is an inquiry based program with learning done through projects, rather than projects being capstone projects. Centred on good questions (that often lead to more questions) – and works across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Student shared the structure of traditional classrooms where ‘the teacher knows and distributes the information’ with seating in rows. The movement to PBL led to a more community based classroom – physically changed seating and metaphorically changed thinking…
PBL also encourages reaching out to the community – which was something that a student was able to reflect on that worked well for her learning. Not remaining limited to the knowledge inside the classroom, but being able to look (and sometimes work) beyond the school walls.
With a nice wonder – how do you do PBL with virtual learning environments…. students reflected that it may not be as much of a stretch from in-class to on-line – the setting is the setting; you can still collaborate and make friendships online and work with others (or on your own) whether live or asynchronous. The connections for some were different, so difficult for some to form – especially as they may be scared to make connections from the confines of the bedroom…. but it has been done, and can be done!
Regarding equity – there is systemic reasons why there has been, and continues to be gaps in achievement and attainment. This is a threat to the long term health of our communities (political and economy) and student engagement & passion around education can lie on the other side from success.
Then we got into some of the research – which I have often mentioned earlier as difficult because for ‘research’, the PBL movement has been relatively small and narrow to begin. But over the years, there has been critical mass reached so that studies have been able to be done, and shared – and best of all, confirm the successes that many of us ‘early adopters’ (though PBL in many ways has been used forever and has always ‘felt’ like it should work – much like AFL…, it is just that it has been formalized in a way that can be looked at with qualitative data). Across the studies, deeper learning was identified as having huge impacts both in knowledge and practice of science standards. Practice and skills in use. And has impacts outside the targeted domains. When students value (and are valued) in collaboration, this helps make learning meaningful.
Now instead of ‘just’ being a gut feeling, we have more evidence to support its effective and effectiveness. Here is a link to some of the research that was shared today to link up with todays webinar: https://www.edutopia.org/article/new-research-makes-powerful-case-pbl
PBL not only helps kids learn, but is better than traditional strategies and approaches. The good results took time. Refinement matters (much as it has with AFL – peer and self reflection/feedback don’t ‘just happen’ but take practice, mistakes, successes and growth. In the researchers with districts that still use letter grades… they saw an 8% improvement across the board in class success… and the teachers who signed up for the research STAYED with the project – many often fade out, but in this case teachers stayed with the research because they were seeing value for their classrooms!
When it comes to equity and inclusion – ALL students deserve rigorous PBL instruction – because they can! Nobody needs to be left out – we don’t need to stop and ‘fill in the gaps’ but instead let students use the skills they have to explore and push and use the skills they have, or acquire the skills they need.
My own PBL started small – little projects based on good questions… not giving recipe cards for students to follow…. it started as “embracing the chaos” (what I first said as I left the staffroom) and over time became “trusting the process” (what I later said as I left the staffroom). Small became bigger. It was things like “making a song for ‘dads/people who do the job of dads’ for Fathers Day” and exploring GarageBand with me ‘not being able to help because I’m old and don’t know the program’. Creating a cardboard arcade to invite another class to come and explore based on Cain’s Arcade. Then posing questions (and our BC Curriculum is now focused on Big Questions) and allowing students to learn and create in the same mindset. To collaborate at times (Big Fan of Sugata Mitra’s SOLE’s) and work solo as they wish. Not balancing groups, but allowing groups to work or fail on their own – and keeping track of the journeys where a failed project does not mean a “fail” on the report card, but different learning that has been done and can be recorded – admittedly best on an efolio following the learning journey, less so when it is a report card with a letter/number/% and a sentence. Sometimes a lot of learning happens when a final project is not completed…
Big Q – what do I need to know and do to answer that question? Is the project the dessert? or the main course? It should be the bigger part of learning… and doing! This is an approach that can work across the board – irrelevant of economics, reading levels, etc.
Final Messages from the panel:
Amber Graeber:@ambermgraeber PBL makes me excited to go to work every day and the kids to come to school.
Deborah Peek-Brown: works for all teachers and all students.
Joseph Krajcik: @krajcikjoe to reduce achievement gap for racial equity… this is it!
Britte Haugan Cheng: @brittecheng achievement gap has been around too long – gotta close the gap and change what education ‘means’ to our learners. Need our innovators and critical thinkers more than ever today – and the research shows we have an approach that helps students see they have a voice that matters in their education journey.
Michael McDowell: @mmcdowell13 PBL admin advocate: Rigor and Relevance matters and is part of this – kind of like whole language, PBL needs a little bit of everything – so sometimes a lecture may be useful. We need to work together to see this as a place of balance and working together – whether together or via distance learning. Gotta make sure ‘kids are with us’ when starting out the learning – what is the content… what is the task… what is the curriculum… what is the competency… are you on the right/same path? How are we connecting as professionals to help ensure our projects are engaging and authentic in our practice.
With a big thanks to AnnMarie Baines @annmariebaines who kept us on track and on time for this topic that could easily take us a full day….! And reminded us that this is not a product to buy, but an idea to work with and make use of as a skill/strategy – and LucasEdResearch.org has a lot to explore – as does Edutopia.org
Let’s make PBL the norm!