After a recent live Twitter chat, I received a message from a member of my PLN asking for help. Here is the specific message:
I feel that many of the resources available to help teachers fine tune their projects are too clunky. How do I help them evaluate their practice? I am honestly looking for a ‘hacky’ way to evaluate project versus PBL.
From the coaching perspective, I am wary of using the word “evaluate.” The fear of “getting it wrong” is a major symptom of PBL Paralysis (read more about PBL Paralysis here), which can keep teachers from taking instructional risks. However, interest in continually reflecting on and refining our practice is what separates good teachers from great teachers. When pausing for reflection, questions are always the best place to start. So, here are the five questions I suggest to drive discussions regarding PBL:
- When does the learning occur?
- Who assesses the learning?
- Who is the audience?
- How is the project individualized for the learner?
- What relevance does the project have on students’ lives outside the classroom?
Let’s apply the questions to two different instructional plans for a unit on body systems. Ultimately, the questions should help create a distinction between project based learning and a traditional project.