BlogWalker

Muddling through the blogosphere

February 11, 2013
by blogwalker
2 Comments

A 60-Minute Introduction to PBL

On Wednesday, I will head over to an elementary site in my district to give a one-hour session on Project-Based Learning (PBL). I am thrilled for the invitation and the opportunity to initiate conversations on how technology can support teachers in taking student learning to new levels.

Within a 60-minute limit, my goal is to make clear that Common Core Standards are “the what” and PBL is “the how,” with technology there to help fuel the scope and impact of authentic learning.

Image from Ginger Lewman, ESSDACK, 2012

Thanks to the outstanding PBL resources available online, I did not have to start from scratch to build my presentation. Between Edutopia’s dynamic PBL resources, with Suzie Boss leading the way; the Buck Institute for Education’s PBL site; and Ginger Lewman’s PBL in the Primary Classroom LiveBinder and her Life Practice blog site – where I found her wonderful “At the Intersection” illustration  – gathering links to share with the teachers was like hitting the jackpot every time I Googled PBL.

My slideshow presentation walks teachers through the definition and some sample best practices, gleaned mainly from Edutopia. My goal for the remainder of the school year is to replace Edutopia best practices with PBL samples from my district.

I’ve included my notes in the slideshow – again crediting Suzie Boss, Ginger Lewman and BIE for much of my narrative.

If you have resources, samples, or activity ideas (appropriate for a 60-minute workshop), I hope you will jump into the conversation and leave a comment.

July 4, 2011
by blogwalker
0 comments

ISTE Day 4: Suzie Boss – Ripped from the Headlines – Real Events Yield Relevant Projects

I already knew when I saw Suzie Boss’s Ripped from the Headlines – Real Events Yield Relevant Projects listed on ISTE’s Wednesday session that I would be ending the conference with a bang. With Paul Allison (National Writing Project/Teachers Teaching Teachers),  Katherine Schulten (NYT Learning Network) , and Matt Baird (Science Leadership Academy) joining Suzie, this “lecture session” quickly became an interactive discussion session.

Suzie opened the session with Poll Everywhere question on current events: What makes a headline project-worthy?

  • messy problem – no “right” answer?
  • relevance, high interest?
  • ongoing issue or consequences (Weinergate, for instance, wouldn’t be lasting)?
  • connection to curriculum/standards?

We flashbacked to 2010 and the BP gulf oil spill and meaningful learning – Q: How do you design meaningful curriculum around a current event? Paul Allison shared Voices on the Gulf – a wonderful, year-long, National-Writing-Project connected project.  I was glad that he selected pieces created by Margaret Simon’s students. Having been involved with the Voices on the Gulf project, I really enjoyed watching Margaret’s students publish their thoughts and creative efforts around the oil spill to an authentic audience.

Suzie: “Students need to have empathy with people who are the front lines. Where can we help students develop empathy through current events selectively – without being ambulance chasers.

Matt  jumped in, opening with the June 26 Doonesbury cartoon that addresses the “just Google it” issue. His point: “When you’re looking for projects that will have meaningful transformative experiences – they should be something students can’t google.” The focus should be on the process of learning as opposed to content – “you’ll get richer learning.”  Microsoft Excel, for instance, rather than being taught as a stand-alone class, should be woven into an real topic, such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami. When students put together actuary tables of costs/benefits  in their math class, it spilled over into Matt’s history class. Cost of lives had not been considered in equation. Headlines don’t always have to be national/international.  With the BP oil spill, words such as “fracking” became increasingly woven into discussion. Philadelphia’s drinking water has changed to dead last. Are there any correlations? SLA Spanish classes, went to Dominican Republic to apply clean water ideas. Eleventh grader Humanities students had to come with elevator pitch – cross curriculum connections.

A Real Events Yield Relevant Projects approach to teaching and learning is about student voiceand choice, inquiry-driven learning. It’s about students getting “activated” – so they can go out and do something.

Question: How do you go from an event to a project?

  • PBL process guides inquiring learning – going deeper than a current-events chat
  • students make meaning, do or make something with what they have learned
  • results in authentic products

For an example of the above, checkout Kim Coffino’s  Quakestories wiki.

In the current test-driven climate, many K-12 classrooms have stopped weaving current events into the school day. Time to reverse this trend!

July 2, 2011
by blogwalker
0 comments

ISTE Day 3: Infographics – Jane Krauss & Diana Laufenberg

Jane Krauss and Diana Laufenberg are leading  the Beyond Words: Using Infographics to Help Kids Grapple with Complexity session: “With digital data burgeoning, helping students make sense of information is more challenging now than ever. Infographics –visual representations of data- can play a critical role in developing students’ information literacy so they can make sense of their world. ”

Here’s their presentation link, which also includes a Session Description page. I love being able to revisit how they constructed the hour-long session. From the Session Links Chart , you can explore a broad sampling of online infographics, starting with the first infographic – Minards Map.

From Minards Map, we moved on to a high school student’s Utah Ski Map. Jane posed the question: How could you show distance to airport? Great audience participation in response to this question.

Besides the links on the chart, Diana recommended visiting David McCannless’  TED Talk: The beauty of data visualization, which I’m heading into watch right now.

I became intrigued with infographics following the BP oil spill. The enormity of the disaster was instantly understandable to me via infographics like 50 Ways of Visualizing PB’s Dark Mess. Much inspired by Jane and Diana’s presentation, one of my goals for the new school year is to explore infographics as a tool for English Language Learners.

August 7, 2010
by blogwalker
1 Comment

Voices on the Gulf

Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched the lightning-speed evolution of some amazing venues for connecting  students in project-based explorations of the BP oil spill. The combination of Suzie Boss’s PBL Camp (via Edutopia) and Paul Allison’s  Voices on the Gulf site (via the Teachers Teaching Teachers community and the  National Writing Project) has me pretty excited about starting the new school year.

From the the PBL Camp wiki and the Twitter and Elluminate sessions, along with the Teachers Teaching Teachers weekly Skypecasts, and few Google searches, I’ve gleaned some great resources to help jump start classroom discussions, research, and projects on the oil spill:

Maps

Videos and Images

Animals on the Gulf

Lessons

In the News

Starting today, I’ll be putting some time and energy  into  the Voices on the Gulf project. I’ve learned never to say “no” to an invitation to work with Paul Allison, Chris Sloan,  and Kevin Hodgson. Over the past five years, I’ve connected teachers in my district and region to a number of innovative, technology-enhanced NWP projects – always with the same result:  students are empowered by opportunities to connect with students in other locations around issues they genuinely care about.

If you are looking for ways to connect with other teachers and classrooms around specific or general topics, issues, and questions surrounding the oil spill, I encourage you to join the Voices on the Gulf community.  I’ll be working mainly with the  Our Voices (K-6) channel for Voices on the Gulf, and I already know it will rock your students’ worlds because I’m teaming with Kevin Hodgson, whose expertise in teaching the new writing continues to inspire – and push (in a good way) – all who work with him.

And if you have additional oil spill resources to add to those I’ve posted, please jump in with a comment!

March 5, 2008
by blogwalker
0 comments

Technology and Project-based Learning

reinvt.jpg

How do we justify project-based learning (PBL) in a test-driven climate? I’m sitting in a session with Jane Krauss and Sylvia Martinez, who are discussing the reality that you have to make some adjustments to your curriculum in order to fit PBL into your curriculum. Fact: Thinking takes longer than multiple choice. Fact: “PowerPoint does not a project make” (Jane).

So how do you translate authentic assessment to measurable numbers? “You can do it; it just takes a little longer” (Sylvia). But since we tend to teach the way we were taught, how to we change our ways? Idea: have a tech-using, PBL-oriented teacher come demo a lesson using another teacher’s students – with that teacher in the room as an observer – who will no longer be able to say “Oh, my students could never do that.” This model = “embedded professional development.”

How do we provide the evidence (research)? Start blogging your classroom practice. Blogging = self-reflection and … action research.

Skip to toolbar