Tag Archives: PBL

PBL PD – The Kindezi School

Through the support of our school, Bob Ryshke and the Center for Teaching, Bo Adams and I connected our learning with the learning and experiences of the adult learners at The Kindezi School.  The conversation and learning on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 centered around PBL (project-based learning, problem-based learning, place-based learning, passion-based learning,…).

Bo posted Kindezi – PBL – CFT yesterday to record our plan as well as our projected learning and experiences.  While all of these teacher-learners have iPads to learn with and use in their daily work, they have Windows-based computers.  We used Keynote to hold and display our resources which has made it difficult to share our resources with the Kindezi teacher-learners.

So here is my version of the morning, learning, and shared resources:

After quick introductions, Bo read a passage from Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath.  We read the story of Jerry Sternin from chapter 2, Find the Bright Spots.  You can read the story we chose to read at the blog post Switch, Don’t Solve Problems—Copy Success.  This blog post has an exclusive excerpt from Switch.  While we have experience using PBL with our student-learners, we are not experts in the Kindezi community.  We came to learn as well.

Bo and I facilitated a discussion of current PBL practices at Kindezi where teaching-partners spent 10 minutes preparing a presentation of one successful PBL experience done this year and gathering an artifact to show as evidence.  Bo and I shared two videos of the work and learning happening in Synergy.  See Synergy 8 Update – Week 3 and Synergy 8 Update – Week 3 Part II…Game Plans for our evidence.  The PBL presentations from Kindezi were varied and interesting.  I hope that these teachers will share their practices in a more public venue soon.

To help calibrate our current PBL practices we looked at the following from Linda Darling-Hammond’s book Powerful Learning: What We Know About Teaching for Understanding.

Also summarized from Darling-Hammond’s book, we discussed the following expectations of PBL.

Then we learned to seek “i can” infection from Kiran bir Seth

Can we find connections between the curriculum and the current PBL practices of others at Kindezi?  We asked for an attempt to coordinate practices, to add to an existing PBL idea, write about contributions that other classrooms could make to join and support these lessons.

We concluded our time on this day with the following community PBL idea for this community.  We do not expect these teachers to take this as a “do now”.  We hoped to show a path to find a collaborative learning project that the community could build together.  Can we plan a school-wide PBL where every learner can make a contribution?  Is it possible to build a meaningful lesson that where any age learner can learn, grow, complete complex age-appropriate tasks, and contribute to solving a problem in their community?

Completing the Square / Leading by Following

On Saturday, September 17, Bo Adams and I were privileged to provide the keynote address for the 2011 Regional T³/MCTM Annual Conference.  Conference Director Jennifer Wilson facilitated a wonderfully effective learning opportunity for teachers, administrators, pre-service teachers, college professors, and others.

From the beginning, the program cover-art fascinated Bo and me. The conference theme was “Completing the Square,” and the image pictured a puzzle with a missing piece in the center. To build our keynote address, Bo and I imagined what that missing puzzle piece might be that would truly complete the square. Additionally, we threaded our talk with the idea of Leading by Following.

Believing in the powerful nature of stories, Bo and I told four stories to illuminate some puzzling issues facing educators today:

Puzzle 1: Why do we talk so much of teaching when it’s about LEARNING? Or… “How could they not know this?” [Assessment for Learning]

Puzzle 2: How can we make learning experiences more meaningful? Or… “When are we gonna use this?” [Contextual Learning]

Puzzle 3: Why are teachers and admin “US and THEM” when we all want our students to learn? Or… “You are a fool!” [Learning Partners]

Puzzle 4: Why is teaching an “egg crate culture” when we know learning is social? Or… “WE are smarter than ME.” [Learning Communities]

What do you think the missing piece might be? What completes the square? The following slide deck will lead you on the path that we explored during the keynote. We loved being in this community of learners at Brandon Middle School. It is always a privilege and pleasure to spend time learning with committed and curious educators.

Cross-posted with Bo Adams on his blog, It’s About Learning.

Handicap Ramps: Connecting Ideas and Experiences to PBL – apply what you learn

I don’t often have the question “When are we going to use this?” launched at me.  Sometimes I wonder why?  Why aren’t my learners asking this question?  I often ask myself “When are they ever going to use this really?” when teaching Algebra I.  How can I better show our learners that algebra is used for many real purposes, not just on a test?

On September 14, 2010, I had the privilege of attending TEDxAtl where I heard Logan Smalley talk about creating a movement with Movement Turned Movie.  Logan introduced us to Darius Weems and his story Darius Goes West.  In the spring, Darius joined our 8th graders for their retreat – an amazing experience for all.

On July 19, we will host approximately 170 teachers from nine different states for a summer learning experience.  We’ve done this summer camp for teachers for several years.  Each year there is a teacher or two who will struggle to navigate our campus.  There are stairs everywhere.  We do have elevators, but they are not always in the most convenient places.

In Synergy, we problem-find and attempt to problem-solve based on observations of our environment and community.  Logan’s advocacy for wheelchair accessible spaces combined with accommodating teacher-learners with mobility problems has caused me to want to learn more about our campus and the ease of access to our spaces.

Where are our ramps and elevators?  What are the requirements and specifications for these ramps?  Are the requirements based on the angle of elevation or the ratio of the length of the ramp to the height of the ramp?  Is the angle of elevation connected to the ratio of length to height?  Isn’t this rise over run?

What can be learned by investigating the ramps on our campus? Does our learning have to be restricted to our campus?

  • Algebra?  (I think there must be slope, geometry, and right triangle trig at a minimum.)
  • Science? (I think mechanical advantage might come in to play here.)
  • Writing workshop?  (Do we need more ramps? Are there areas where a ramp is needed? How can we advocate for others?)
  • History?  (When and why did the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) become law?)
Here is a photo we took today at the entrance to Pressley where most of us enter to go to the dining hall.  If you look closely, you will see a meter stick on the ground near AS’s feet.  
In the latest version of the TI-Nspire CX operating system you can analyze a digital photograph.  It is a great way to use ratios and proportions along with unit conversion.  Can you predict how tall AS is based on the measurements and the scale?  (I was less than an inch off.)  Does our ramp fall within the ADA’s specifications?  
Let’s make sure the variables and measurements are defined clearly.  m=3.83 cm is the measurement of the meter stick on the screen of the Nspire.  rl=23.3 cm and rh=1.91 cm are the screen measurements for the ramp length and the ramp height, respectively.  ah=4.64 cm corresponds to AS’s height on the screen. 
Can you think of ways to use your environment to teach?  We should not be restricting learning to the four walls of our classrooms.  Can we find ways to show our young learners how their learning connects to their community and beyond?

Tearing Down Walls

We live in an increasingly connected world. Yet barriers to connection continue to operate in schools. Kathy Boles at Harvard has described school as the egg-crate culture. With some exceptions, teaching can be an isolated and isolating profession, unless teachers and administrators work to be connected to other learners. It is far too easy to go into one’s classroom and teach…relatively alone…siloed. Classes right next door to each other, much less across a building or campus, often have no idea what is going on outside the four walls in which they are contained. And departmentalization makes for an efficient way to deliver content in neat, organized packages, but departmentalization is not the best parrot of the real, inter-connected, messy-problem world.

What can we do to step closer to modeling and experiencing real, inter-connected problem-addressing?  How do we communicate with each other when we are assigned classrooms where we can be siloed?  What could greater connectivity look like for learners of all ages?

Recently, learning partners Jill Gough and Bo Adams submitted a roughly made prototype of a three-minute video to apply for a speakers spot at TEDxSFED. It’s about “Tearing Down Walls.” It’s about experiments in learning by doing. It’s about learning.

Turnpikes, Toll Roads, Express Lanes

Atlanta:  Traffic, traffic, and more traffic…

Coming Soon! Peach Pass available in Spring 2011. 
I-85 Express Lanes in Atlanta open in Summer 2011. 

View the Peach Pass video to see lots of accessible math connected to a real community issue. Learn more about the I-85 Express Lanes.

  • What’s the difference between an express lane, a toll road, and a turnpike?
  • Are you charged by the mile or by the minute?
  • Why is the target speed 45 miles per hour?  What is the target speed for other express lanes?
  • How will the Peach Pass know when I should pay (because I have less than 3 people in my vehicle) and when I can ride toll free?
  • What is the mathematical model that determines the toll?  We know it is positively correlated.  Will the model be linear, exponential, or some other type of function?
  • What will the revenue generated by the Peach Pass be used for and who controls these monies?
  • Are the Peach Pass and other E-ZPass-type cards cost effective or just convenient?
  • How do the other locations listed in the video charge for the use of their express lanes?  How do other states collect this money?  Utah, for example, uses an ExpressPass.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike is the oldest turnpike in our country.  Beginning in January, 2011 there was a rate increase; cash tolls increased 10% while E-ZPass tolls increased by 3%.  Is there a savings to use the E-ZPass, or is it just for convenience?  Since there is a Pennsylvania Toll/Mileage calculator, we can investigate the cost to drive on the PA turnpike.  Would this help indicate a reasonable rate for driving on any toll road or express lane?

To see if there is a pattern to the cost, I chose to collect data entering the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Interchange 57-Pittsburgh and then vary the exiting interchange for a class 1 vehicle with 2 axels.  I wonder what the toll rate for an 18-wheeler would be compared to my passenger vehicle.  My learners have many choices.  They may choose to start at any entry point on the turnpike and vary their exiting interchanges.  I suppose they could vary both the enter and exit interchanges.  They could also change the type of vehicle to investigate the charges and the rates for different size vehicles.

Is there a pattern to the data?  It the relationship linear, exponential, logistic?

To see the relationship between the data, we graph.

Cash toll charged vs. miles driven on the PA Turnpike:

E-ZPass toll charged vs. miles driven on the PA Turnpike:

To compare the two data sets, graph on the same grid.

More questions:

  1. What are the mathematical models that could represent these data sets?
  2. What are the meaning of the slopes of these lines?
  3. Is it cost efficient to purchase the E-ZPass?
  4. Is there a relationship between the E-ZPass toll charged and the Cash toll charged?
  5. What is the mathematical model that could represent these data?
  6. What is the meaning of the slope of this line?

Which leads to more questions:

  • How does the rate charged by the PA Turnpike compare to the rates of other turnpikes?
  • How does the rate charged by a turnpike compare with the charge on a toll road or express lane?
  • From $0.60 to $6.00 is a pretty big swing in cost to use the 16 miles of the I-85 express lane in Atlanta.  How will traffic volume be determined since tolls go up when traffic volume increases and the toll is lowered when traffic volume decreases?
  • How do the toll roads, turnpikes, and express lanes in other countries compare to our toll roads, turnpikes, and express lanes?  How do they compare in cost, in speed, and in access?

Can our learners aquire the needed content through a problem or project based approach?  Will they find the content more interesting and engaging?

As we learn more about problem-based learning and project-based learning, would this be type of lesson help learners see the application of content? … the blending of content? … the relevance of content?

I think so.  Are we willing to experiment?… to learn by doing?