Developing an Entry-Level Chemistry PBL: Creating a Tool Box for Success

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Today’s post is an update on project planning I am currently doing with Ms. S, a second year chemistry teacher. When I last left off with Ms. S and Ms. C, I requested they both consider what standards they wanted their projects to have students to do some deep-diving. In wonderful fashion, Ms. S did just that for both a fall project idea and a spring project idea. We spent our planning time work on her fall idea. Using several Buck Institute resources (BIE.org), we started the design process, which to be fair is an overwhelming venture the first time you take it on as a teacher. Why so overwhelming? PBL requires considering a far more variables than typical lesson planning does, and a teacher must plan several contingencies, which amounts to a stressful process where a teacher does not always know where to begin the first time they design a PBL. Like many bad memories, I tend to forget how difficult my first year of doing pervasive PBL really was on me mentally and physically. As I try to coach others like Ms. S, I try my best to recall those feelings of being tired and overwhelmed. Empathy is important when guiding other educators into uncharted waters–remembering we’re in it together keeps me humble and helps me give other teachers perspective. Still, empathy only goes so far. A teacher still needs a firm launching point, so I used BIE resources and a few in-house documents to create a project planning packet.

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Dipping Our Toes into PBL: First Meeting with Ms. S and Ms. C

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Yesterday, I sat down with two science teachers in my school building, Ms. S (chemistry) and Ms. C (oceanography/biology), to start a conversation about developing project-based learning (PBL) in their classes.

Both are new PBL as an instructional method, but both are interested in developing their pedagogy to include PBL as a more authentic approach to their content. While Ms. S is planning more so for next year, Ms. C is working on a PBL for her oceanography students that would take place in March/April. Inside today’s post, I go through the pace of our conversation and the questions and concerns they both had moving forward into uncharted waters. Continue reading

Studio Reunion #PBL Chat Video

The conversation was over an hour long, and while a live broadcast would have been cool, I brought my regular ol’ camera to capture the conversation just in case. We all laughed at the situation as one of our on-going mantras of The Studio class was, “Always have a backup!” I hope you enjoy the discussion as much as we enjoyed having it. There are some profound nuggets about experiential learning, authenticity in education, and the impact of relationships in a classroom–all of which play a role in well-developed project-based learning. I want to think Tiffany, Maddie, Kevin, and Abby again for their time yesterday. They are all busy college students, and I so deeply appreciate their time. Enjoy and please share!

UPDATE (No Live Stream): Studio #PBL Reunion @ 4PM Today!


UPDATE: Due to tech difficulties, I cannot live stream after all! I’ll have a video up this evening though, so stay tuned for that. Thanks for the patience.
Join us today! A few of my former students will be sharing stories from their high school project-based learning experience, and its potential impact on their current college careers.

The Impact of PBL & Authentic Learning: An Email from a Georgia Tech Student

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So it has been a little while since I have brought up PBL exclusively here on my blog. While I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about my research pursuits and literacy in its multiplicitous forms, please know that project-based learning (PBL) and real-life inquiry is still my passion. In today’s post, I am sharing an email I received about a month ago from a former student who I taught in my earliest years as a PBL teacher. She is currently in the last half of her second year at Georgia Tech. The email is a strong reminder to me in my darkest moments of instructional frustration that the work I do and the unconventional methods I use are important and have an impact on my students’ futures. In the near future, this same former student will be writing a guest post that will expand on this email, and she can truly share in her own words the impact PBL and real-life inquiry has had on her life. I hope some of you innovators out there enjoy this as much as I did. Continue reading