Quiet Power in the PBL Classroom

Picture this: today is Day 1 of your first PBL project. You are excited: you’ve framed the work around carefully chosen power standards and have masterfully incorporated success skills into your plan; the product students will create is authentic; and most importantly, after staging an engaging entry event and the introducing the driving question—your students are hooked. You reveal to the class their project teams and move students into team building activities. But as you do, one of your more reserved students approaches. In a voice that rises just above a whisper, he asks, “Do I HAVE to work in a group?”

It could be tempting to answer a quick, “yes,” and encourage him that all will be well; however, what if this student doesn’t just dislike working with others—what if the very thought of being part of a group is downright terrifying? For students who are on the introverted end of the introversion-extroversion spectrum, working with others can feel intimidating and overwhelming. How should a Project Based Learning teacher respond?