Project Based Learning
Target Group: Teacher Leaders, Coordinators, and Heads of Department
Project- Based Learning (PBL) has re-surfaced as an incredibly effective approach to learning in the 21st Century Classroom. It provides students with the opportunity for deeper learning, engages students around their passions, connects students to the world outside school, and equips students with key 21stcentury skills necessary to thrive in college and the workplace. The challenge for schools is in delivering project-based learning experiences strategically; in a way that allows for cross-curricular connections, deep investigation, and meaningful experiences with experts and professionals outside of school. This professional development course helps ensure the Project- Based Learning program is sustainable and provides these opportunities. Participants in this program will:
- Learn the components of effective project design
- Develop Project-Based Learning units that allow for deep investigation using backward planning and UBD design
- Connect Project-Based Learning to curricular goals and school mandated standards
- Learn to assess project-based experiences both for academic content and ‘soft’ 21st-century skills
- Learn to coach teachers to plan and work in a transdisciplinary project-based model
- Learn to develop a CAPSTONE PBL experience that allows for scaffolding of student skills
The Teacher Leaders PBL program helps leaders and curriculum coordinators create a program that allows for deep learning that fosters trans-disciplinary connections. Through work in a backward planning model, participants learn to develop a PBL program that is connected to curricular goals and the schools’ vision, but also flexible and adaptive to new innovations and technology. This is an exciting opportunity to have staff at all levels of experience work together to develop and implement project-based learning experiences that allow for deeper learning. Project- Based Learning Experiences that participants will be encouraged to propose and implement range from working together with experts and organizations to solve community problems, to STEM-related experiences that allow students to engage in meaningful and important work.
Survey plays an important role in this program to ensure program content and engagement can be differentiated to meet the needs of each participant. The survey and assessment process includes:
- Participants will be surveyed to understand their experience, ambitions and anticipated challenges;
- Participant supervisors are invited to provide feedback on their expectations and goals (This also serves to build awareness of the program and ensure support);
- The team of each participant will complete a PBL Team Health Check (PTHC) to provide a benchmark to assess the later impact of the program;
- Participants will provide feedback throughout the program to ensure content and assignments are context specific and appropriate to their level of mastery;
- Participants will engage in action learning assignments between each workshop to assess their mastery;
- At the conclusion of the program, the team’s action plan will be assessed against benchmarks for effective PBL implementation
- Participants will receive regular feedback from the facilitator and peers.
PTHC has been carefully designed to pinpoint specific areas of development within a school team. It’s comprehensive in nature, involving quick and easy responses to one-line statements, and covers 13 benchmarking categories:
- Curricular Planning
- Understanding by Design
- Project- Based Learning unit design
- Project- Based Learning student assessment and evaluation
- Clear Objectives and Purpose
- Capstone/ Culminating project experience mapping
- Timetabling according to pre-determined objectives
- Sound Inter-Project Group Relations and Communications
- Appropriate Management/Leadership
- Sound Team Procedures and Regular Review
- Output, Performance, Quality, and Accountability
- Change, Creativity Challenge the Status Quo
- Decision-Making and Problem Solving
Assessment results will produce a team report that will enable a team to take purposeful action steps in areas that are likely to generate the greatest return on investment in terms of performance enhancement activities. The PBL Team Health Check (STHC) has been designed to be applicable to all teams, regardless of function or size.
This program is divided into two sections of 3 workshops each. The first section of the program focuses on developing participants’ leadership and trans-disciplinary capabilities in a project-based learning environment. The learning objectives for the first 3 workshops are:
- Understand the difference between effective and ineffective project-based learning;
- Experience how teams build trust and adhere to group norms;
- Understand how to develop projects over the course of a school year;
- Learn to manage difficult personalities and navigate difficult conversations; and
- Use protocol to assess team’s ability to deliver project-based experiences and to identify opportunities for team growth.
The last 3 workshops will help participants begin implementation of their developed PBL program with their team. During this section, the facilitator will schedule 30-minute coaching sessions between each workshop to ensure participants reach their goals. Participants will identify an effective Project- Based Learning benchmark metric that they feel they can improve on and with the help of the facilitator, develop strategic action steps to overcome the challenge. The learning objectives for the final 3 workshops are:
- Identifying and communicating the developed Project- Based Learning program;
- Identify obstacles to effective implementation and develop strategies to overcome them; and
- Work in interdisciplinary teams to prepare and ‘tune’ a sample PBL project proposal.
- Team Formation
Group norms are formed in the first meeting, whether you intend them to be or not, and once formed can be incredibly difficult to address in later stages of team development. This workshop will help you better understand your team’s working style, define your role in the development of a PBL program, facilitate effective team meetings and provide you the tools necessary to ensure your team starts the year with a strong foundation to collaborate from.
Essential Question: What do I need to know and be able to do to lead a collaborative team?
- Participants will explore the why, what, and how of collaboration
- Participants will learn how to manage effective meetings, ensure equity and foster interdependence.
- Participants will use tools and strategies to establish and enforce group norms.
- Participants will learn how to build consensus to identify the team purpose and goals.
- Effective vs. Ineffective Project- Based Learning
There is a big difference between ‘doing projects’ and ‘project- based’ experiences. Effective projects allow for a deep investigation, acquisition of key content and skills, and experiences that connect students to meaningful opportunities outside of school. Through case studies, participants will learn more about these components and how to design experiences that ensure their projects have the most lasting impact across their campus.
Essential Question: What are the components of the effective project-based experiences and how do I design experiences that effectively incorporate them?
- Participants will learn the difference between ‘doing projects’ and ‘project- based’ experiences
- Participants will learn how to identify effective experiences through analysis of case studies and connection to deeper learning goals
- Participants will learn 5 step process for an effective project-design
- Project Design and Curricular Connections
After understanding the components of effective project design and experiences, participants will begin mapping out a project- based experience that includes student experiences, curricular goals, an exhibition of student work and project milestones.
Essential Question: How can I effectively plan a project-based experience that connects to curricular goals and allows for deep investigation?
- Participants will learn how to map subject-specific content (including IB, standards-based, and A levels) to project goals
- Participants will learn how to effectively plan a project-based experience using a planning guide
- Participants will learn how to plan an effective project launch, milestones, and final product/ exhibition
- Assessing PBL using best practice
Effective project-based allows for the acquisition of both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills. Students learn core academic content in each subject area while also developing skills as communicators, innovators, collaborators, and problem solvers. This module teaches participants how to assess these skills in a strategic way through formative and summative assessment measures.
Essential Question: How do I effectively assess the ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills students have gained through project-based experiences?
- Learn the difference between formative and summative assessment
- Learn how to use formative and summative assessment to assess the acquisition of content and skills
- Learn how to develop rubrics for assessments according to ‘mastery’ benchmarks
- Managing Project-Based Experiences
Project-based experiences involve several moving parts. Teachers must manage student teams, ensure growth and development, connect them to resources outside of school, and also communicate progress to parents. This module will expose teaching teams to simple methods for project management that allow students to own and communicate their learning.
Essential Question: How do you effectively manage a project-based experience that allows students to own and communicate their learning?
- Participants will learn effective online tools for project management
- Participants will learn how to develop project guides to help assist students in project milestones and goals
- Participants will learn how to use platforms for online student portfolios and how to communicate learning with parents
- Project Tuning & Proposal
Feedback helps strengthen project work by providing specific and tailored advice for development. Through a ‘Project Tuning Protocol,’ participants will have their project tuned by a team of master practitioners prior to implementation.
Essential Question: How can I strengthen my project-based learning experience using specific feedback from a group of master practitioners?
- Participants will strengthen project goals and experiences through an evaluation protocol
- Participants will experience how an interdisciplinary approach can address issues related to their specific practice; and
- Participants will learn how to use the same ‘project tuning’ process in work with students