PBL Field Guide: Start with the big picture

The second reflection in Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age challenges the reader to take of tour of online resources to help “see the big picture” of PBL.  [pp. 23-24]

My initial thoughts about online PBL resources include Ted.com.  Have you seen the following TED talks?

John Hunter on the World Peace Game


Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge

I prefer the PBL examples from John Hunter and Kiran bir Sethi over the videos from Edutopia.  I think I have struggled with the videos from Edutopia because they seem “canned” to me because of the announcer voice that talks over parts of the videos.  I should not discount the message and example because I don’t appreciate part of the package, right?  Encouraged to start with the big picture, I went back to Edutopia today for more stories, research, and ideas.

From Edutopia.org, I am drawn to Anatomy of a Project: Kinetic Conundrum which integrates art, history, engineering, language arts, and technology.

I am curious about the assessment plan for the Kinetic Conundrum project.  It is tagged with comprehensive assessment, but I have not found any rubric or explanation of how the learners were assessed.

I had not explored www.pbl-online.org before today.  It seems connected to Edutopia and BIE.  From the website:

PBL-Online was created under the leadership of the Buck Institute for Education, with major contributions by the George Lucas Foundation, the Department of Educational Technology at Boise State University, and a group of University partners.

I think www.pbl-online.org might be a good resource for teams looking for support and scaffolding to begin to design projects for their learners.  I am particularly interested in Design your Project which has organized project planning into five design principles: 1) begin with the end in mind, 2) craft the driving question, 3) plan the assessment, 4) map the project, and 5) manage the process.  There is also a PBL Co-Laboratory where you can search for projects and contribute your projects.  It is the Learn-and-Share model we have been working toward.

The National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS·S) strike me as similar to our essential learnings in Synergy.


  • Inquiry & Deep Questioning
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Problem & Solution ID
  • Data Gathering & Analysis

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts

My questions revolve around assessment and integrated studies.  We are looking for PBL with PBA.  How can we assemble a team to facilitate a project that crosses over multiple disciplines?  Will our PLC facilitators and/or department integration specialists (DIS) help us orchestrate whole school or multi-discipline PBL?  How do we develop a balanced assessment plan to provide our learners with dollops of feedback throughout the project?  How do we design a summative project-based assessment to assess learners the way they learned?


Boss, Suzie, and Jane Krauss. Reinventing Project-based Learning:  Your Field Guide to Real-world Projects in the Digital Age. Eugene, Or.: International Society for Technology in Education, 2007. Print.

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