Project Based Learning

From Wikipedia:

Project-based learning (PBL): best defined as instruction relating questions and technology relative to the students everyday lives to classroom projects. Students form their own investigation of their own group which allows students to develop valuable research skills. The students engage in design, problem solving, decision making, and investigative activities. It allows students to work in groups or by themselves and allows them to come up with ideas and realistic solutions or presentations. Students take a problem and apply it to a real life situation with this projects.
Project-based learning (PBL) provides complex tasks based on challenging questions or problems that involve the students' problem solving, decision making, investigative skills, and reflection that include teacher facilitation, but not direction. Project Based Learning is focused on questions that drive students to encounter the central concepts and principles of a subject hands-on.
With Project-based learning students learn from these experiences and take them into account and apply them to their lives in the real world. PBL is a different teaching technique that promotes and practices new learning habits. The students have to think in original ways to come up with the solutions to these real world problems. It helps with their creative thinking skills by showing that there are many ways to solve a problem.
Project Based Learning - does not require Web2.0! in fact 95% of PBL schools do not have a curriculum developed to integrate Web2.0 as it's technology delivery model. PBL schools are rapidly 'advocating' Web2.0 as a platform for delivery, however a hand full of schools do it.
PBL will work for GROUP work. It is possible to create a PBL project in isolation, and use the various existing rubrics for assessment.
PBL promotes
  • Communication
  • Collaboration - 1 student cannot do it all!
  • Management Skills - students learn to assign roles and to negotiate the direction of a project
  • Scaffolded Learning - Teachers facilitate though the use of 'breadcrumb' trailing key learning
  • Explicit skills/knowledge can be taught - but students must 'request' specific knowledge and defend why the want it - workshops are organised by teachers to deliver specific skills
  • The teachers as a value-added service
  • Busy kids - behaviour issues go away to a large extent - kids are engaged more of the time. Sound mad, but it's true! Even in year 9!
  • Applied learning - kids learn to ask the 'right questions'. Not 'tell me what to write' kind of questions.
  • On demand teacher professional development - be prapared to learn new skills all the time
  • Light Speed delivery - kids deliver more and more and more in shorter time frames, so reviewing learning is key to keeping them busy!
  • You can achieve in 2 weeks what might take a term of 'lecture and repeat' learning.
  • Re-engages students who are bored of being talked at all the time
  • Allows them to be creative, and not be restricted to narrow learning channels.

PBL assumes that students need to learn more than content. They need to learn to communicate, work with others, defend their ideas, and interpret research findings. The cannot 'google' PBL projects. They cannot cut and paste their way to victory.

Warning : Students who are used to memorising content and ace-ing tests dislike being asked to work with others, defend their work and not be the 'leader'.
Warning : Teachers facilitate - they don't chalk and talk or steer students - the project does that - so developing a great project is important.
Warning : Teachers do not control the discourse, students to - be prepared to be 'on the spot' and be close to students - there is NO standing out the front lecturing students on 'content'.

Project Based Learning Diigo - started by Dean Groom, includes many 'known' PBL teachers and authors

Edutopia - George Lucas Foundation for PBL

Re-Inventing PBL - Wiki- Awesome Jane Krauss/Suzie Boss inspired

What qualities make a great PBL teacher - PDF

5 Perspectives on a PBL Learning - PDF
Sample 'general' PBL Assessment Rubric - how do I mark this stuff if theres no 'test' - PDF

NAPA - New Technology Foundation - A model for delivering PBL

Buck Institute Model- PBL - Popular 'charter school' method

Below are some samples of documentation issued to students - Please remember that we combine 2 subjects in each project. This is Catholic Studies and Information Software Techology. We are also using WEB2.0 as the delivery platform. In this task, students will use at a minimum Diigo and EduBlogs. To take part in the group research, all students join a Diigo Group to demonstrate group and individual research

What does an entry document look like?

Well it can be text, could be a video, a song ... a speach, a play - anything that puts the problem to be solved into an authentic context. In the example below students are using OUTCOMES (yes we still use them) within Catholic Studies and Information Software Technology.


In conjunction with the Blake Society, Parramatta Marist will be hosting the 2008 Images of Jesus Exhibition.
With the theme “Images of Jesus throughout history to contemporary times”, the exhibition has been created to link art, digital media and religion and give students new possibilities to explore and have published their own personal images of Jesus in the twenty-first century. This competition is one of many that the Blake Society promotes and supports, including the Blake Poetry Prize and the Blake Prize for Religious Art.
The winner of the Blake “Images of Jesus” Competition will have their work published in the Catholic Outlook. The competition will be judged by a panel of specialists.
Closing date for entries: Week 10, Term 2.
1. Each exhibition must be created by a group of 4 entrants.
2. Each exhibition must consist of a total of 12 pieces of artwork. Each group is expected to contribute one artwork from each historical period and four original artwork submissions.
3. Each piece within the exhibition must be accompanied by a written art caption of approximately 150 words. Each art caption must contain the name of the original artist, the artist’s motivation at the time of creation and personal analysis of the artwork.
4.There is a word limit of 2000 for each exhibition.
5. Individual submissions must be the original work of the entrant.
6. The exhibition must never have been published before, or have won another competition and they must not be under consideration by any publisher, literary magazine or for any other prize.
7. Artwork must be on the theme of “ Images of Jesus throughout history to contemporary times ”.
8. Exhibitions must be presented in a wiki and saved to digital media.
9. Each entry must be accompanied by an entry form.
10. Entrants should write their names, email addresses, group number and the title of the work on a separate wiki page.
11. No entries will be accepted by email.
12. The judges’ decision will be final and no correspondence about the result will be entered into.

Individual reflective documentation - students work from a calendar and are expected to respond to a range of personal questions. This relates not only to the topic, but to organisation, working with others, communication and presentation. Despite being GROUP based, PBL is also highly individual in nature too. Here are a selection of 'blog' posts students need to make.

Journal Entry 1 - Selecting Groups

Using your eduBlog Page, under the category CST/IST - Project 4 answer the following questions.

1. List TWO problems that could occur from students selecting their own groups.

2. Which type of student do you think would be selected first?

3. Why do you think they were selected first?

4. Which type of student do you was selected last?

5. What beneficial characteristics can you offer to your group?

6. List THREE things you personally would like to improve on during this project.

Journal Entry 2 - Using the Rubric

Using your eduBlog Page, under the category CST/IST - Project 4 answer the following questions.

1. How many rubrics are there for this project?

2. Describe the purpose of the rubric?

3. How can you use the rubric to get the best possible mark?

Journal Entry 3 - Introduction to Images of Jesus

Using your eduBlog Page, under the category CST/IST - Project 4 answer the following questions.

1) What words and or images come to mind when you hear the word Jesus.

2) Why might it be important for young people to identify with an image of Jesus?

3) Where in your life do you most associate with images of Jesus?

Journal Entry 4 - Introduction to Images of Jesus

Using your eduBlog Page, under the category CST/IST - Project 4 answer the following questions.

1) What form of medium (music, art or literature ) allows you to best connect with Jesus and Why

2) Why has Jesus been portrayed in so many different ways throughout history?

3) How is Jesus portrayed at Parramatta Marist?

4) What artistic time period do you think best represents your image of Jesus and why?

5) Identify one image of Jesus that appeals to you. What do you like about the representation?

6) What factors currently shape your image of Jesus and why.

GROUP WORK - along the project time line, students are given smaller tasks as a group. This might be a 2 hour session at the end of which a presentation needs to be made (BELOW), or it may be some other form of response. PBL students cannot leave GROUP tasks to individuals - are there is too much to do - and cannot leave it until the last minute, as all the work along the way counts - worth ethic, presentation etc.,

GROUP TASK - 2 sessions (4 hours)

In order to better understand how images have portrayed Jesus throughout history and then in turn identify elements that shape your own portrayal, each group will design a 5 minute presentation on one allocated art period.

The topics will include:

- Early Church
- Byzantine
- Romanesque
- Gothic
- Renaissance
- Baroque
- Contemporary

Each group will be given a specific artistic time period and will need to construct a 5 minute class presentation with a 5 minute class interactive activity.


Within the allocated time period Groups must identify:

1.) ONE main theme of the period and at least one event that shaped that theme.

2.) TWO specific artists of the time period one general one religious and list the main influences on the artists.

3.) ONE artwork from each of the two artists explain why you chose it.

Interactive Activity

Within the allocated time period Groups must ensure the class has:

1.) Clearly understood the main theme identified.

2.) Knowledge of two artists of the period.

3.) Reference to artworks from the period.

It is important that interactive activities highlight the understanding of the presentation by the remaining groups.

From Flashmeeting

students create a know list and a need to know list

not like find information and put ppt together
but have to take roles, do individual research, do intermediate presentations and research

difference between inquiry and pbl - learning is inquiry based but marked on work effort, ethics, communication & presentation skills, AND research AND writing

move from low order (list, identify) into high level (discuss)

Many teachers that are into it, and many that thought it'd be neat but find it too hard.

instead of just looking for stuff on google, can check what each kid is doing, more in depth:
second life
bluescreen video

uses moodle to set up base knowledge, but students have access to adobe creative suite and final cut

track progress with blogs / teachers give comments
mini-crits (mini-criticisms) in the classroom

lauren: asks about accountability of teachers, to ensure they still do some of the explicit teaching?
dean: teachers still have program of work (week by week) - kids still know what they have to do in a particular couple of hours

From session
gallery of web apps:
viral professional development:

Designing Constructivist Learning Environments - David Jonassen

Post-Meeting link, added by Steve Collis: , public site for the Year 3 PBL unit on nature.