Tag Archives: PBL

I’m not smarter than these 6th graders…Posh Problem Posse in action – Part 2

At the first Posh Problem Posse meeting I explained my problem.  I’m running – training for a 10K.  I run very early in the morning in the dark.  I wonder if I am visible enough.  I wear a reflective vest, but can I be seen? Also, because it is cold, I wear a fleece vest which has a pocket to carry my phone.  When it gets warmer, how will I carry my phone?  I need it for safety. I need it for the app that coaches me.  I need it to listen to books and podcasts while I run.

There has been a week between the last meeting and this meeting.  I arrived in my running gear so they can see what I described when we last met. I’m wearing my gloves, vest, shoes, headband, etc.

Color me surprised… They have ideas, questions, and a mock-up prototype for me to see.  Wow!

I’m so sorry I didn’t capture more on video.  It was awesome! I’ve never heard of luminescent wire.

We spent about 20 minutes in a question session.  I wanted to know if the wire was washable.  Would wire on pants help me in the spring? Would they suggest luminescent wire on my running shorts or skirts? Should we consider only wiring my running vest? (I don’t wash it as often as I wash my running clothes.)

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 8.10.56 PMThe boys designed a sketch for me to discuss with them. They feel I need more reflective tape on my vest, and I need lights on my shoes. My current vest has reflective tape at my chest.  Their design has reflective tape spanning from my chest past my waist.  Notice the tuxedo stripes of luminescent wire on the pants. Teamwork in action.

They also are concerned about my fall.  Their hypothesis is that I need lights on my shoes to see when the pavement is uneven.  They are attempting to design lights for my shoes that help me see and also help me be seen.

They asked if they could paint my shoes with neon paint.  Now, I have a thing about my shoes! I don’t think I want my shoes to be painted.  They immediately wondered if they could find reflective tape to add to my shoes.

We, again, discussed my need for a pocket to carry my phone.  They asked if I used an iPhone.  They asked if I wanted the pocket to be padded.  “Just in case you fall again, it will protect your screen from getting smashed.” Sweet!

When I left, they were brainstorming next steps based on my feedback and their new ideas.

How often do we underestimate young learners?  What if we engage as learning partners with our young learners? What if we ask questions that have many answers? What if we ask questions without knowing the answers?

I have a problem…Posh Problem Posse in action – Part 1

Kate Burton, teacher of 6th graders, and I had a conversation about problem solving.  What could we do to promote more problem solving and critical thinking for a few of our 6th graders? We talked about Synergy, having an Alpha project, and gradual release of responsibility.

Kate and I are reading Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana. Could we (she) apply what we are learning with an Exploration about problem solving called a Posh Problem Posse?

I offered to be the first client for the Posh Problem Posse. I have a problem that I’d like for these smart, creative learners to consider.

I arrive for the first Posh Problem Posse meeting and explain my problem.  I’m running – training for a 10K.  I run very early in the morning in the dark.  I wonder if I am visible enough.  I wear a reflective vest, but can I be seen? Also, because it is cold, I wear a fleece vest which has a pocket to carry my phone.  When it gets warmer, how will I carry my phone?  I need it for safety. I need it for the app that coaches me.  I need it to listen to books and podcasts while I run.

The Posh Problem Posse asked me several questions.  Would I wear my phone on an arm band?  No. It will leave a tan mark. What problems have I had running? I fell in October because the uneven sidewalk caused me to trip.  Why do I run so early in the morning? I run before my family gets up so that I don’t miss any time with them and because I don’t sleep very much.

I only had 15 minutes to meet for this very first meeting.  Kate facilitated a question generation session with these learners and sent me the following email:

On 1/22/13 1:42 PM, “k8burton” wrote:
Below are the questions and then responses plus some extra notes.  It’s not formatted and there are a few abbreviations… Speed note taking at its finest.
Posh problem posse
What the budget that you would like us to have? A couple hundred
Would this be a gift, are we donating it to her? Bump in clothing is x 4
Would you be opposed to something larger like a puffer vest?
Would you rather have light wire around a pant leg
How much extra weight are u opposed to? Less than a pound
Do you want actual lights on some of you or reflectors
Does it have to be a vest? Would it work to have a light shining on you?
Would you like to have duct tape that might be a little less reflective?
Would you like reflective other places? Like jewelry or tuxedo stripe or head band hair tie or something in your head
Do you like listening to things when u run?
How close of a fit do you want? Adjustability
Do you have an iPhone
Where do you want your iPhone to be? Can it be on your arm?
What if the padded pocket for phone is on the inside of the jacket?
Do you want zip up or pull over vest? Pull over
What would you like the name to be?
What colors would you like? Orange pink
Would you like removable reflectors/ lights so that you don’t have to have them on at home? Removable for laundering
Velcro way to attach the airhorn
Lots more neon
longer on the vest
ID tag with info
Make an alley for the light wire
Sent from my iPad

There is a week between this meeting and the next meeting.  I plan to arrive in my running gear, so they can see what I have described.  I like the questions, and the way they are thinking.  I can’t wait to see what they are thinking!

Caine’s Arcade #PBL #DoDifferent #STEAM

Do you still wonder if we should make time and space for project-based, student-directed learning? Can you spare 11 minutes to watch Caine’s Arcade?

Can you find the content that you teach in Caine’s learning? I found design, engineering, math, physics, art, problem-solving, creativity, communication, strategic planning, perseverance, and many other important, fundamental, essential learnings.  I have to say that I just love his built-in security system with the calculators.  Amazing!

If you have 8 more minutes, please watch the next step,  Caine’s Arcade 2: The Global Cardboard Challenge & Imagination Foundation.

Who are the learners in this project? What was learned?

#PBL Must See: Brittany Wenger – Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer Detection – #TEDxAtlanta

“The more you know, the more you wonder.”
~ Brittany Wenger

This is must see if you are interested in PBL and integrated studies.

Meet 17-year-old Brittany Wenger:

We have got to ask:

  • What if we listen more closely to what interests our learners?
  • What if we strive to hone our skills as facilitators and coaches of learning?
  • How do we acknowledge that a learner’s interests and passions can drive them to learn and grow in ways we cannot predict?
  • How do we makes space in the day for choice, research, design, inquiry, investigation, failure, and success?  
  • How do we support personalized learning?


Many, many thanks to TEDxAtlanta and Unboundary for the joyful and challenging day of learning!  If you have not already, you should check out the rest of Edge of the South.

Water instead of Soda #PBLidea #AskDon’tTell

Is there PBL potential and academic content in this commercial from Nestlé?

By replacing one sugared beverage a day with [a bottle of water], you can cut 50,000 calories a year from [your] diet.

The fine print in the ad says that this is based on replacing one 12 oz 140 calorie sugared beverage daily with water for a year.

Where could a discussion of this ad take us in class? What questions will learners ask? What questions will we ask our learners?  What questions might be asked to challenge learners apply what they know?  What questions might be asked to promote problem-finding, problem-solving, communication, leadership, initiative, action, service, and other critical competencies?

Ask; don’t tell.  Listen and learn.  Just ask a question…see where it takes us.

Practicing to be a TLC student leads to learning and questions

I am very intrigued by Steve Goldberg’s use of Google Earth for education and empathy.  Yesterday he posted A typical morning at TLC middle school.  For context, here’s what Steve predicts a day might look like at his school, opening in fall of 2013 in North Carolina:

In the spirit of learning by doing, I thought I’d practice being a student at Triangle Learning Community middle school and follow the typical morning plan for the Morning News Discussion…with a Synergy twist. In Synergy, we wanted to work in ripples – local, national, and international. I gave myself the 45 minutes to read and investigate. This 45-minute exercise turned into the entire two hours! It is the most concentrated news reading I have done in a while!

I started with the AJC to read and learn more about Atlanta. The article Three options for the ‘Gulch’ caught my attention. I noticed the “Gulch” just last week. I used Google Earth to see the area. I immediately thought of how to use the map view in 6th grade math when we teach the area and perimeter of “funny shapes.”

I was intrigued by the vocabulary and meaning of “multimodal passenger terminal” because I have just been reading about how car-oriented Atlanta is which can be frustrating for cyclists. The search for multimodal passenger terminal lead me to atlantadowntown.com’s Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal page.  I did not know Atlanta was planning to have a street car.  I also did not know about Bikes and Bites on July 21.  Bikes and Bites is billed as a car free initiative during Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week where Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) are encouraging diners to ride their bikes to dinner at more than 20 Downtown restaurants.  What positive environmental outcomes are predicted?  Wow!  Bo’s Whatever It Is I Think I See Becomes a PBL to Me! is so true!

I read and researched and connected these ideas for quite a bit of time.  I wanted to “go global” with my news reading too.  I returned to A typical morning at TLC middle school. After watching the video again and reading the linked article about child brides in Niger, I wondered what the headlines were from the paper in Niger.  Did they have a daily paper? I found Le Républicain Niger using Newspaper Map, a new-to-me resource suggested by Heidi Hayes Jacobs. Thankfully, Newspaper Map would translate this newspaper into English (from French) so I could read the headlines.  Talk about a lesson in perspective!  Not one mention of the plight of child brides, the hunger crisis, rapid population growth or infant mortality in the headlines of Le Républicain Niger.

How often do we not see problems in our own community?  How can we find (do we seek) new perspectives to see and observe what is happening in our neighborhoods and larger communities?

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (After 3) Coffee and Dessert: What Will Sweeten Your Teaching After #CFTSI12?

On Monday and Tuesday, June 25-26, Bo Adams and Jill Gough facilitated a ten-hour workshop on PBL at The Center for Teaching Summer Institute (#CFTSI12 on Twitter). With this post (see below the bulleted list), we are hoping to encourage and support the most important part of any conference or institute for professional learning – the “taking-things-back-to-school-to-enhance-learning” part.

Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (After 3)
Coffee and Dessert: What Will Sweeten Your Teaching After #CFTSI12?
(180 Days of Possibility in 2012-13 – Keeping the Conversation Going)

CHALLENGE: Many believe that this is actually the best part of the meal. The #CFTSI12 for Synergy and PBL is complete, but the fun, decadent portion has just begun. As we all know, peak learning tends toward project-based experiences, and students long remember the sweetness of the projects that they taste and savor. Additionally, Steven Johnson advocates for coffeehouse environments that create the conditions for great conversations and colliding hunches. So…let’s feed our sweet tooth and share in those magical after-diner-coffee conversations. When (not if!) you implement PBL with your student learners, share the plates and cups with the entire table – POST your writing, resources, insights, and struggles regarding your PBL implementations. If you have a blog, please consider cross-posting to Synergy2Learn as a contributing author. If you don’t have a blog of your own, we still invite you to post to our collective-wisdom site for PBL – Synergy2Learn.

  1. When you are ready to share and contribute, email Jill and Bo, and we will set you up as “contributors” to the Synergy2Learn PBL blog.
  2. After you are set up as a contributing author, you can keep on posting about your pursuits and accomplishments with PBL.
  3. Even if you did not physically participate in the #CFTSI12 for Synergy and PBL, this offer still applies!


Coming Soon…

Amazing stories of PBL experiments, implementations, and accomplishments from our #CFTSI12 participants and blog readers (hopefully!)…

[Cross-posted on It’s About Learning and Synergy2Learn]