PBL Field Guide: Strive for Information Artists ~ Examine Essential Learnings

Can we help our learners choose and collaborate projects that they care about?  Can we join a team of learners to discover how the content of our discipline can be used in the process of finding, working on, and solving problems?  Can we use technology to move past rote learning to analyze, synthesize, create, and innovate?

Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age asks

What big ideas, what core concepts and processes, should students know after studying with you? [p. 43]

During our PLC-F meeting Thursday morning, LAL asked us to consider

Can we challenge ourselves to ask how our content serves the project rather than how the project serves our content?

Steven Walker of Tech High School during his 21st Century Thinking presentation on STEM teaching and learning indicated

We should use technology to help us perform routine procedures while we emphasize learning to analyze, interpret, and apply the results.

Our PLCs establish essential learning for our student-learners.  We research what is essential by reviewing local, state, and national standards.  We interview our colleagues who receive our learners in future courses as well as collaborate with our learners’ current teachers.  But, do we ask

Outside school, who cares about these topics? [p. 57]

In a discussion with Bo Adams, Paul Van Slyke, and David Stubbs concerning the design of collaborative spaces for learning, I responded to the suggestion that teachers initially say no to change and innovation with the idea

Sometimes we initially say “No, I don’t think that will work” when we really mean that “I don’t see how I can do that by myself.”

Look at The Blood Bank Project from High Tech High.

When we say, “I can’t do that” do we really mean, “I don’t know how to do that, and I don’t know who will help me?”  These teachers made the commitment to learn something new, to learn from each other.  Did you notice how these teachers are using technology?

Are we serious about being lifelong learners who serve and lead in a changing world?  Do we practice using technology and research to help us hone the essential skills: communicate and collaborate, problem-find and problem-solve, create and innovate, reflect and revise, serve and lead?

When it gets down to the brass tacks, is it really that critical to solve a quadratic function by hand?  How important is it to know the time period of the Era of Good Feelings?  How often, outside of school, will we need to know the formula for kinetic energy?

What are we willing to trade in our curriculum to make space for blended, complex, integrated learning experiences?


  1. Me too. I am trying to learn to listen more and stay open to change and new ideas. Asking questions instead of making statements helps me. What can I do to make this work? How can I contribute to the idea or project? Who do I know that can help move this forward?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.