April 19

#PBL as Professional Development (Part 4 of 6)

Previous posts in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Implementation

The Implementation phase is the lengthiest portion of any project, where much of the action takes place. Our #PBL professional development is no exception.

During project implementation, all of the HQPBL principles are being practiced: intellectual challenge and accomplishment; authenticity; public product; collaboration; project management; reflection.

To manage the project development, each team develops a project plan, identifying roles, responsibilities, tasks, constraints and project timeline.

Plan” by Alpha Stock Images shared under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Once this infrastructure is determined, the teams develop solution(s) to their driving question. Required tasks typically include research, consultation with subject-matter experts, prototyping, and collaboration with others, sometimes outside of the team and/or outside of the school.

In order to monitor the robustness of solution development, peer reviews are scheduled on a periodic basis. Critical Friends protocols, such as The Charette provide a structured environment for others to offer constructive feedback to the team. These reviews serve as formative assessments and often lead to modifications to the solution development.

Board Font Problem” by Pixabay shared under a CC0 1.0 license.

Reflection is another essential component of implementation that is conducted on a regular basis. Reflection can be done as frequently as daily, and at a minimum formal reflection should be done at each project milestone. Team members reflect on the project progress, their contributions, and the contributions of the other team members. The reflection process is also useful for the team to examine how well their solution is responding to the driving question. If needed, the team corrects their course.

Reflection Sunset Mirror” by Pixabay shared under a CC0 1.0 license.

Once a (draft) solution is completed, the project team presents it to the whole professional development group for critical review. Ideally, outside experts are also included in the review. The process is the same or similar as in prior peer reviews, a structured session where the audience provides formal feedback to the team.

Based on the audience feedback, each team revises their solution(s). In some cases, this requires a return to the design step, an alteration to the design. An example of this would be where a solution requires different resources than originally identified. The team would need to return to the design and modify accordingly.

As we can see, revision is a frequent and ongoing characteristic of the implementation phase. Implementation is highly iterative, and time must be built into the project schedule to allow for multiple revisions.

Next, we discuss testing our solutions!

April 12

#PBL as Professional Development (Part 3 of 6)

If you missed them, Part 1 and Part 2.

Design

We now move into the Design step of our professional development #PBL process. Based upon the analysis work done in the previous step, each team creates a framework for their project by developing a driving question. To be effective, it needs to be open-ended (“What can we…,” “How can we…”) and identify the desired change(s) or outcome(s). An example is “How can we create a learning environment that prepares our students for adult life?”

“What can we…” “How can we…”

One of the most difficult aspects of creating an ideal driving question is sizing it such that it is neither too large/broad nor too small/narrow. As the teams develop their project plan (in the Implementation step, our next topic), they may need to revise the driving question to fit within the project constraints.

Once the driving question is derived and agreed upon, each team creates a Need to Know (NTK) list. The purpose of this list is to document all the information to be gathered and research to be conducted in order to be able to create solution(s) to the driving question.

Each team also identifies resources they require to develop the project. Examples include technology tools, access to subject-matter experts (SME), and statistical data.

All of these parameters may require modification as the teams delve deeper into their topic.

Project design requires practice in two of the HQPBL principles: authenticity, collaboration

Next, we will discuss Implementation.

 

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April 6

#PBL as Professional Development (Part 2 of 6)

If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

Analysis

We now discuss the Analysis step of using a #PBL process for professional development. 

Ideally, the professional develop group of learners includes participants from both the teaching and administrative staff, in order to develop a cohesive understanding of PBL concepts, and to jointly create solutions.

We begin by using improv games to break the ice and start team building. To further create a positive environment, we develop group norms to guide our interactions. One of my personal favorites is “assume positive intent.”

Yes Letters Tablets” by geralt shared under a CC0 1.0 license.

We then examine the survey results, and ask the participants to identify the highest priority items. The number of topics selected from the list is dependent on the number of participants, with one topic per each 3-4 people. The participants then group themselves into 3-4 person teams based on their highest level of interest.

Each team then identifies the desired outcomes. What do we want the solution to the problem/question/situation to look like? Why? During this step, we do not consider the “how,”; that comes later.

Problem, Analysis, Solution” by geralt shared under a CC0 1.0 license.

And finally, in teams and as a whole group, we discuss the requirements for successful team collaboration. What logistical and strategic components must be in place for the teams to thrive? This is a critical element of overall success!

These analysis activities provide teachers with practice in two of the Framework for High Quality Project Based Learning principles: authenticity, collaboration.

Analysis provides practice in two of the HQPBL principles: authenticity, collaboration

Next up – Design step!

April 5

#PBL as Professional Development (Part 1 of 6)

Just as we ask our students to make a leap of faith to engage in a project-based learning (PBL) environment, we should boldly ask the same of teachers and administrators. An ideal way for educators to develop familiarity and confidence with PBL is to experience it!

I propose to launch educators’ exploration into project-based learning using the Framework for High Quality Project Based Learning (HQPBL), combined with P21 Exemplars to guide their work. First, we ask them to develop familiarity with the framework and with the characteristics of exemplar schools. Participants then respond to a survey which assesses the HQPBL factors and/or exemplar teaching and learning characteristics they think are lacking in the existing school environment.

Then, we guide them through a series of professional development sessions based on the PBL process.

Next post – Analysis step!

HQPBL Framework

  1. Intellectual challenge and accomplishment – Students learn deeply, think critically, and strive for excellence.
  2. Authenticity – Students work on projects that are meaningful and relevant to their
    culture, their lives, and their future.
  3. Public product – Students’ work is publicly displayed, discussed, and critiqued.
  4. Collaboration – Students collaborate with other students in person or online and/or
    receive guidance from adult mentors and experts.
  5. Project management – Students use a project management process that enables them to
    proceed effectively from project initiation to completion.
  6. Reflection – Students reflect on their work and their learning throughout the project.