Top 6 PBL News Stories

April 18 – 22, 2016


Each Friday we post a list of our favorite articles, blog posts, and other resources we’ve run across that relate to Project Based Learning.

Here’s what we liked this week:

The Myth of Walkthroughs: 8 Unobserved Practices in Classrooms
Education Week
Author Peter DeWitt recommends that school leaders make walkthroughs more effective by looking deeper at strategies that sound a lot like what happens when PBL is done well: cooperative learning, authentic engagement vs. compliant learning, deep level questioning, more student talk vs. teacher talk, and positive teacher-student relationships. He connects much of this, as BIE does, to John Hattie’s research.

How Effective Are Career Academies?
The Atlantic
Career academies that focus school curriculum on particular industries or economic sectors and provide students with internships or other job-training programs are gaining popularity – and many of them use PBL. This article cites plenty of evidence that career academies have many positive effects on youth of color, but also points out that “they are not alone a guarantee for educational equity.”

Deeper Learning and Equity: 3 Educator Perspectives
Getting Smart
Our friend Bonnie Lathram shares video interviews conducted recently at the Deeper Learning conference. Great stuff on how deeper learning (closely tied to PBL) promotes equity from Jennifer Morrison, a student at the High Tech High Graduate School, Jose Garcia, a coach with New Tech Network, and Tony Simmons, executive director of High School for the Recording Arts.

Most Likely to Succeed
Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center
On April 28 at 7pm, in downtown San Rafael, CA, the Buck Institute for Education is presenting a screening of this acclaimed film about PBL and High Tech High. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the film’s executive producer Ted Dintersmith, plus teachers, students, and moderator Bob Lenz, executive director of BIE.

The Main Course: Project-Based Learning
The Kauffman Foundation
Amy Gale describes her visit to Charles R. Drew Charter School in Atlanta, which “has closed the achievement gap and become a model for high-quality STEAM
(Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education” and PBL. Some great project examples: in one with the driving question “Is bling worth it?” third graders learned about blood diamonds. In another, second graders designed a STEAM-based playground.

What Would You Do Differently Now?
SmartBlog on Education
Veteran teacher Harrison McCoy comments on how things have changed in the 21st century, but teachers who went to school in the 20th century might not have changed their thinking. He recommends many things he would do differently if starting out as a teacher today, which (once again) remind me of PBL: incorporate inquiry into instructional design, learn to “coach and facilitate learning experiences” in addition to “teaching,” emphasize learning instead of grading, and “get comfortable with failure as part of the learning process.”


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