I'd like to introduce a new book I've written with coauthor Suzie Boss called Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age. Our book takes you on an adventure into today's project-based learning, where technologies fundamentally change the teaching and learning enterprise. Reinventing serves as a guide through the instructional design process for tech-rich pbl, and gives a voice to adventurous "scouts", innovative teachers from around the world who show us how to take advantage of the essential learning functions of emerging and tried-but-true technologies to transform the teaching and learning experience.

To learn more about the book and join the conversation about pbl in the digital age at our blog: Reinventing Project-Based Learning.

Thank you, Steve Hargadon, for approving this post.

Tags: book, edtech, pbl

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I LOVE project/problem-based learning with tech tools! It's the best combination for developing true 21st century skills using that proverbial Daniel Pink non-linear thinker!

I teach grades 5-8, one room, one school in a 1:1 laptop, pbl environment. It's an amazingly difficult but extremely rewarding experience for both the kids and me.

I'll give your book a day in court!
Hi Ginger,
Curious how your school context (1:1 laptop, charter school, etc.) sets the stage for pbl. As you point out, pbl is rewarding but not easy. We're curious what schools can do to better support teachers and learners. Is your school design allowing for more collaboration (among learners, between teachers), better tech integration, more flexibility with curriculum design? Eager to hear what's making a difference.
PBL fits wonderfully. As a charter school, we can set a general daily schedule, but also be flexible enough to make one class longer or shorter as needed for a project. Some days we don't do math at all (kids are expected to do their lessons at home that day).

We don't use text books---we learn how to find quality sources online. However, we also do use some online curriculum support with OdysseyWare. Math is not a success with pbl, so we have an online class, where the lessons are right there. I also can stop a project and hold a mini workshop on any portion of curriculum piece the kids need.

As for student collaboration, that's the amazing part. We have students grades 5-8 all in the same room, working together. Sometimes I group them according to ability/readiness, but sometimes they're mixed ability groups too. Kids write contracts in their groups and if someone's not following the contract, they can be fired from the group and have to complete the project all on their own! That helps with the collaboration piece SIGNIFICANTLY.

Tech integration? We try to use the most useful tools for the job. We do try out some new tools as they come along and find that we love some, and that some others need to go back to the beta drawing board. Either way, the kids are learning how to use tech as a "pencil/paper" type tool and I rarely teach the tool. We use a lot of collaborative tools in the classroom, such as wikis, Google Docs, IM, and Skyping when a student is on vacation or at home sick (illness is rarely an excuse to not work with your group when they need you. The kids Skype in with their groups when they need to). I'm finding that the kids CRAVE working on projects off-line from time to time, so I try to incorporate as much building as possible with their work. The majority of my students are kinesthetic/visual learners, so the use of tech tools works for a bit with the kinesthetic, but they're KIDS, so need to move too.

Above all, we have terrific parent participation--it's a requirement for their kids to attend here. The kids WANT to come to school--our absentee rate is LOW. Also, if they're not working up to their own capabilities, we have the power to invite them to leave the school. No one wants to leave, so if/when they begin to slip, we have a talk, and help them get back on track. The school has been a great success for the gifted population, as well as for a few of my students working 1-3 levels below grade. I credit the success to the support of the parents, as well as the other pieces above.

We are NOT a traditional school at all and kids are rewarded for efforts and learning. Grades take a definite backseat. If the student is learning, they receive high praise both verbally, but also they get to participate in presenting at adult conferences, which they LOVE. As for the grades, the students are measured on a group and individual basis, and if they're doing exactly what I'm asking/expecting of them, they get the equivalent of a "C." I've removed the ceiling on the g/t population, so they actually have to work and learn. Likewise, a student who struggles to learn can earn an "A" if they've worked extra hard and went above and beyond, no matter what their starting level was. Hopefully, it's more of a respectful environment for all, where we're all learners together.

If you're interested in Skyping in to see us in action, send me a private message and we can make arrangements. I'm so proud of these kiddoes!

Wow--sounds like a very "outside the box" environment and it sounds like it really engages your students.

I'm fascinated by how the students are skyping others in to finish assignments when absent--that is the kind of dedication that shows how engaged they are!

It sounds like a great model for any campus, not just charter schools!

Thanks for sharing.
I am truly lucky/blessed to have a perfect storm in this little petrie dish! Kevin Honeycutt just did a podcast with my students and me yesterday, asking if PBL is ready for primetime. I'm afraid the interview was at the end of the day but it did give a glimpse into our world, through the kids' eyes.

Once he uploads it, you can find it here, as part of his series, Driving Questions.
Ginger - we'll be talking to you when it's time for volume 2 of Reinventing PBL! Thanks for your thoughtful post.
Jane Krauss
Thanks, SKIP! We appreciate the Link Love.
The environment for learning is changing and I like to reimagine it this way:
Instead of focusing on technology integration, or technology IN context, let's focus on technology AS context. Old "integration" thinking implies an overlay of tech onto traditional practice. Instead, let's transform practice and take advantage of the technology assets to solve authentic challenges.
Hi Jane,
I spotted your new book as soon as it was listed on the ISTE catalog, and pre-ordered it *:-) It arrived a few days ago, and I am fully into chapter 2, after working through the recommended modifications to my thinking (I was trained in traditional teaching methodologies) and the book is helping me to launch into 2008 as a more fully capable and inspired 2.0 educator. Thanks, and I shall continue to allow the work that you and Susie did to help me continue to improve *:-)
Hey Lee:
I'm glad you are finding the book useful! I'd be curious to hear how you remodel or invent projects in the months ahead. If you'd like any critical feedback or support, let me know. Jane
Project based Learning is the way to go for high school. I use it in my class as much as possible. Recently I found some excellent web sites offering project based resources .....

1. This is a good site to cover the basics and includes a handbook: http://www.bie.org/index.php/site/PBL/overview_pbl/
2. At this iste you can view other projects or create your own: http://www.envisionprojects.org/cs/envision/print/docs/750
3. Here you'll find another project library and a great list of resources: http://novelapproachpbl.com/ProjectLibraryContents.htm

I'm a firm believer we need more project based learning. One other resource is FIRST, which is getting students directly involved in robotics. They never call the work they do project based, but examining the methods and goals it's clear to see why their work is motivating students. One team working in FIRST, a poor inner city high school in Phoenix, beat MIT n a robotic competition.
cheers, jack
Right on. The new tools we have to work with are truly amazing.
I'm a sucker. I just bought it based on your recommendation to someone else. I didn't know you wrote it!



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