Boss, S. & Krause, J. (2007). Reinventing project-based learning: Your field guide to real-world projects in the digital age. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.

Chapter 3
Throughout this chapter the author addresses creating a conceptual framework for your projects. She discusses identifying the “Big Idea”, 21st century skills, learning dispositions, and learning functions. At the end of the chapter the author provides 8 questions that help you create a framework for each project you create. The questions also encourage you to include the topics addressed in the chapter. While my ideas are a work in process, the questions helped think deeply about what I want my students to take away from the project and how to incorporate other subjects, Bloom’s taxonomy, 21st century skills, learning dispositions, and my student’s interests.

1. Q: Core concepts for the year
A: Linear Equations, Quadratic Equations, Roots and Radicals

2. Q: Why are they important?
A: graphs give a visual for all solutions, projectile items follow the curve of a parabola, finding max or min profit/area/height, overall number theory and understanding of how numbers increase or decrease exponentially

3. Q: Who cares?
A: home owners, small business owners, Military, athletes, builders

4. Q: Using one core concept, what real life contexts and other subjects can be incorporated?
A: Quadratic Equations/ Parabolas
History can be incorporated with the research of Military artillery throughout US or world wars. Physics can also be incorporated with the study of projectile motion.

5. Q: Incorporate Bloom’s Taxonomy to push past rote learning.
A: Examine 5 pieces of military artillery and classify strengths and weaknesses of each. Create an illustration that compares the artillery and propose 3 ways to improve upon 1 piece.

6. Q: Authentic interactions and 21st century skills
A: Talk to Firearms expert. Create experiments to compare angle and velocity of artillery. Use a web 2.0 tool to create illustration and publish recommendations.

7. Q: Students’ interests?
A: Students may know someone in the military. Research any culture and time period they wish. Gives math an application they can see.

8. Q: Learning dispositions
A: Curiosity, cooperation, persistence, courage

I will revisit 4-8 for each project I plan.

I have compiled a list of key tips for using PBL. The list consists of ideas that I feel I fell short on while first implementing PBL in my classroom last school year. Some of the ideas listed I used but had no follow through. For example, I used a rubric but the expectations to be met were not stated in language easily understood by students, I did not plan enough steps for students to get to the heart of the lesson, I allowed students to choose their own groups, and I gave students a ton of feedback but allowed them to choose wether or not they made the changes I suggested.

Selecting and Designing Projects
  • Projects need to be “right sized” for objectives and outcomes.
  • Stay away from using flashy technology for the sake of using technology. Use tech to encourage deep learning.
  • Stay away from Trivial Themes.
  • Do not pre-plan too many or too few steps. Allow students to direct their own learning.

Project Management
  • Gather key resources on teacher web page or wikispace.
  • Set deadlines and goals. Make a timeline to complete project and post it on teacher website for students and parents to reference.
  • Plan teams carefully. Group students with equal ability but different strengths together (ie. student who is good at organized paired with a student who is good using technology).
  • Plan for assessment. Give “just in time” feedback not after the fact feedback. Create project rubric ahead of time and share it with students.

Implementation Strategies
  • Conduct before and after self evaluations on learning dispositions
  • Generate interest before project kick off (ie. video).
  • Teach the fundamentals FIRST.
  • Then, KWL
  • And share rubric
  • Plan for technology. Technology is not the project, it’s how the project gets done.
  • Promote inquiry and deep learning.