Top 7 PBL News Stories

April 11 – 15, 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 Maker Movement in K-12 Education: A Guide to Emerging Research
Education Week
A great article about the emergence of the “maker movement” – which has many parallels with PBL – and some questions and tensions that have arisen about its future. Includes a list of nine recent books, essays, and research studies exploring Maker education in K-12, drawn in part from presentations at the recent annual conference of the American Educational Research Association.

A Nobel Laureate’s Education Plea: Revolutionize Teaching
National Public Radio
Stanford physicist Carl Wieman says typical college lectures are “ineffectual” and advocates instead for active learning and problem-solving. The article mentions a few other colleges, mainly at the department level, where professors are moving toward a PBL-like approach, but acknowledges the barriers.

Using Project-Based Learning To Turn Students into Responsible Data Consumers
At South Miami Middle Community School in Florida, high school science students participated in a climate change project where they tracked climate data using NASA’s Eyes in the Sky satellite image data and the National Institute of Health’s ImageJ software. Some students were so fired up about the issue that they continued to do research, working with university of Miami professors and scientists.

Risky change in teaching pays off at Bellevue’s Sammamish High
Seattle Times
A great example of what happens when a school focuses it efforts on PBL over time: they see positive results for students, according to a new five-year study. Worth noting: Sammamish began by using PBL in Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Also note: The school uses the term Problem Based Learning, which is a close cousin to the "other PBL" we usually talk about; BIE drew upon many of the principles and practices of Problem Based Learning to develop our model for Gold Standard PBL.

Closing the Equity Gap Through Capstone Projects
Great to see the connection being made between PBL and equity. Some high schools are requiring all seniors to complete a capstone project where they work in the community or for a local business. This provides opportunities for some students who might not otherwise have them to connect with the adult world, gaining access to professionals and a “chance to practice agency skills.” It can also “open the eyes of the community itself” to the potential of students from a variety of backgrounds.

Embracing Failure as a Necessary Part of Deeper Learning
American Youth Policy Forum
“In order for deep learning to occur, everyone needs to be reassured that there will be moments of failure,” says Loretta Goodwin, Senior Director of AYPF, in this report on the recent Deeper Learning conference in San Diego at High Tech High (see my post about it too). She describes a session on Galileo Learning’s approach to summer camp, and how she “failed” at first in a session with BIE’s Bob Lenz and Cris Waldfogel, where she and her team had to come up with a nine-second explanation of PBL!

School history shifts toward accuracy & diversity
As a former high school history teacher I have to include this story. Not because of its discussion of the familiar recent controversy about what should be taught about U.S. history, but because it talks about how. The article gives a big shoutout to our friend Sam Wineburg and his team at the Stanford History Education Group, who developed the excellent “Reading Like a Historian” curriculum, in which students analyze primary sources to explore (PBL-ish) driving questions such as “Was Abraham Lincoln a racist? and “Was the New Deal a success?”


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