Project-Based Learning ~ A Menu of Ideas: Jennifer Brinson #SSDOD2011

Jen Brinson graciously shared her resources.
Learning and Teaching Pyramid: 21st Century Style

Jen began by debunking a few myths about Project-Based Learning, including that whether you call it Project, Problem, or Challenge-Based Learning, it’s all the same thing. How you design and craft your project–local or global–short task or save the world–it’s all the same thing. It’s the application of learning and teaching that creates engagement, relevance and meaning that matters.

Product, process, challenge met in a community is challenge based learning, but each of the 3 share many commonalities.

Begin with the end in mind with a driving question that is provocative, open ended, goes to the heart of the discipline, and can be tied to the real world. If you don’t tie into the real world, you lose your students. Connect to students. Get a business in a city/township to plan a fireworks show and ask the kids to explore what goes into a fireworks display. How are they made? How do you know when they will go off. Math is in our daily lives, so we need to couple with the math departments to get math in real life into our curricula. Make what you do real. Make kids see the real world and what affects other people, not just them. A driving question should be short, catchy, and a go-to quickly.

Assessment must be on-going, formative and summative. Students need  a rubric first to guide them. Have them grade themselves and each other; determine how well they know their content. Reflection is critical. You need to have them take academic risks, collaborate? Give students benchmarks; they need goals and chunking or they will lose focus and direction. Have them give you feedback, use GoogleForms.

What holds teachers back? Confidence. Support. Team with teachers. Understand that the kids will know more than the teachers in technology. Get beyond being a control freak. Think differently about control. Let the kids fly. It’s a challenge, but the reality is the relevance of how the students learn and teach. Get beyond being the deer in the headlights.

Discovery to the Rescue! Use Discovery Atlas, or STEM resources.What’s the plan for next year? Brinson is flipping her classroom. She’s giving content delivery outside the classroom and when they come to class, they work in your room, with you. You move from student-teacher ratio with larger classes to working with students-to-teachers in flexible smaller groups in valuable time. Individual or small group instruction lets us sit down with students and class time becomes valuable teacher time. It’s that simple. QuickTime and Jing become favorite tools. Personal devices will be our students’ friends. Learning becomes flexible, dynamic, and differentiated.

The last thing students need is us as helicopter teachers. Flipping lets students get what they need, when they need it, on their timeline.

Working the Social Studies PBL Flipped Classroom. Jen’s overriding question is “How do I move the world forward?” Her approach will consist of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Appetizers are snippets that go with something bigger. They are too small as stand alones. Each tool works as a great starting point as a piece inside of a larger project, becoming a valuable component but the the real deal, the whole PBL. Brinson went through each app, describing what the tool’s affordances are and how they could be used in different disciplines. One of her favorites is Jeopardy Labs, which comes with thousands of preloaded challenges, and it keeps score. Students create avatars, put them in Jeopardy Labs, and let me tell you, engagement abounds.

While everything on the appetizer page plays into entrees, the entrees lead into the desserts. When the menu is completed, on conclusion they will present and determine which 2-3 projects are the best and deserve to be housed in a LiveBinders for the class. Then at the end of the year, students present and teach to a panel of government officials (economics and government classes), historians. Jen plans to Skype Jennifer Dorman and add her to the presentation panel. You get your friends in and then switch with them and offer a reciprocal service.

That’s Brinson’s menu for flipping her classroom, and I can tell you, I’ll be at the same restaurant, same time, dining from her menu.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Learning menu | Commonthreadgr linked to this post.

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