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We’re very excited to announce our keynote speaker at PBL World 2018: Linda Darling-Hammond. I’ve been aware of her work for most of my career in education, especially after immersing myself in Project Based Learning after joining BIE almost 17 years ago, since her research has bolstered the case for PBL.

In 2016, Linda was ranked as the most influential education scholar in the country. You can find out more about her on the web, and here’s how the Wikipedia entry about her begins:

“Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute. She is author or editor of more than a dozen books and more than 300 articles on education policy and practice. Her work focuses on school restructuring, teacher education, and educational equity. She was education advisor to Barack Obama's presidential campaign and was reportedly among candidates for United States Secretary of Education in the Obama administration.”

Beyond the impressive resume, Linda is an engaging speaker and passionate advocate for deeper learning, equity and change in our school system. I’ve always thought of her as being on the side of teachers, having begun her career as one herself. She co-founded a preschool/day care center and a charter public high school serving low-income students of color in East Palo Alto, California.

Research Backing for PBL
I’ll just quote two of the many studies she’s written that we in the Project Based Learning community often point to when people ask if PBL works and is effective for all students:

Equal Opportunity for Deeper Learning (with Pedro Noguera and Diane Friedlaender)

“Schools that engage low-income and minority students in deeper learning have stronger academic outcomes, better attendance and student behavior, lower dropout rates, higher graduation rates, and higher rates of college attendance and perseverance than comparison schools serving similar students. These schools, which operationalize simultaneous commitments to equity and deeper learning, provide:

  • Authentic instruction and assessment in the form of project-based learning, performance-based assessment, collaborative learning, and connections to the world beyond school
  • Personalized supports for learning in the form of advisory systems, differentiated instruction, and support for social services and social-emotional learning along with skills
  • Supports for educator learning through opportunities for reflection, collaboration, and leadership, as well as professional development.”

Powerful Learning: Studies Show Deep Understanding Derives from Collaborative Methods
This article from Edutopia is drawn from a book by Dr. Hammond and Dr. Brigid Barron. Here’s an excerpt:

“Good Signs
Evidence shows that inquiry-based, collaborative approaches benefit students in learning important twenty-first-century skills, such as the ability to work in teams, solve complex problems, and apply knowledge from one lesson to others. The research suggests that inquiry-based lessons and meaningful group work can be challenging to implement. They require changes in curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices -- changes that are often new for teachers and students.

Teachers need time and a community to organize sustained project work. Inquiry-based instruction can help teachers deepen their repertoire for connecting with their peers and students in new and meaningful ways. That's powerful teaching and learning -- for students and teachers alike.

The Takeaway: Research Findings
A growing body of research has shown the following:

  • Students learn more deeply when they can apply classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems, and when they take part in projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration.
  • Active-learning practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.
  • Students are most successful when they are taught how to learn as well as what to learn.”

As you can tell, we who advocate for PBL have no greater ally than Linda Darling-Hammond. It will be an honor to welcome her to PBL World 2018.

We will soon be announcing other speakers at PBL World, including this year’s PBL Champion award winner, so stay tuned!

Register here for PBL World 2018.