PBL and Buck Institute for Education Day 2

I have absolutely no idea how I got off track in posting the second and third day of my reflections from my PBL training with the Buck Institute for Education via Twitter on my training. I apologize to my mom and the other person who clicked on the link in Google after a search for PBL. Let me get back to completing the two days before something else gets in the way. Again, since it has been so long, I am posting what I said on Twitter during the training and adding a short reflection as needed to show what I was thinking or what I wanted to better understand. It might not be the best way to reflect, but it’s my blog, so what the heck.

If you haven’t seen the RSA Animate video Drive, you really should. Like now.

This was mentioned at the beginning of the day to let us know what to expect. I really like this method of review and it helped me prepare mentally for the end of the day expectation. In other words, I didn’t want to get caught in the fishbowl with nothing to say. That’s not very productive as a learner, for sure.

This tweet was retweeted a bunch of times, and deservedly so. It was a great line by our trainer. Gives you something to think about, and I know every time I use the word grade now, I have to pause to make sure it is what I meant. Assessment is a much more meaningful word. It is also a much more meaningful process. Keep that in mind.

Read my notes above.

The fist to five was new to me and most assuredly an easy one to utilize to immediately assess each student’s comfort level with the current topic. Basically, hold up the number of fingers on how you feel you are doing with the concept being discussed (you choose what number means great or not at all). You can quickly average/estimate the scores to decide if you move on as a whole group or a small group. Exit tickets lets students share their opinion on post it notes or similar on the way out the door, at the end of the project, at the end of a lesson, etc. 

I like this part. One thing you need to make sure of, though, is that you get enough grades in they system to show the student’s actual progress. Can you really show a true average with only four or five grades per six weeks? Does it give the student and parent something to use to help the student growth? I’d say it depends on the topic(s) covered. If it is one topic covered in all of those grades, then probably so. If different topics, then most assuredly not.

This is great to keep in mind when CREATING the assessment tool(s) for the project. Don’t slap down a one size fits all rubric and force the kids to adjust their learning to your personal thoughts. That truly kills the point of PBL. What you have done at that point is just turn it into a project. Anybody can do that at a low functioning level.


Yeah, I know many of you think QR codes are stupid and a time waster, but it is a new technology that these teachers are trying out. I love the fact that they are stepping outside the box here to tie in something different. Besides, QR codes are a way of life for many marketers, fitness devices (parks use QR codes to give instructions on outdoor equipment), and information links in general. Folks should be familiar with them.

See my notes before. Maybe it is the fact that someone gave me an expectation of learning at the beginning of learning. Maybe it is the fact that I find myself excited about learning in general now. Regardless, I love the transparent process that the fish bowl activity provides. It invites anyone to be a part of the conversation…or not. Yet, we all learn from the conversation that is inherently a part of it.

Ooooo. Burnnnnn. In other words, don’t just go download a project off the web and think everything falls into place easily. It doesn’t. You have to consider many angles of where the students can take the learning. It is more time intensive in the beginning, but it pays much larger dividends in the end for you and the students.

Wow!. All I can say here is, Wow!

Okay, I caught some pushback from this on Twitter. I don’t apologize for the sentiment of it. Basically, why do we keep doing a one size fits all assessment of our students and then complain they cannot do all of these varied things requiring out of the box thinking. All we have taught our kids is multiple choice. Life is not like that. PBL is an instructional strategy. Done right, it does not take up 100% of your instructional time. You are still needed for mini-lessons, occasional short lectures, conferences, facilitating, guiding, conferences, some more guiding and facilitating. You get the point. What we don’t need more of is worksheets, multiple choice tests, and people who are NOT educators telling us the best way to prepare our students for the REAL world. Pearson’s world of multiple choice sucks, plain and simple.

Remember, I was in a district that did not allow YouTube, Twitter, or any other social networking site. Many had mastered the art of downloading YouTube videos as home and bringing them on flash drives. How stupid is it that any department forces you to use your own resources and family time to do something that should be done in the classroom?

This was an idea I threw out to some folks. I realize there are all kinds of chats available out there. I did not see one specific to PBL. It would be a nice support place for folks to go to that are new or those willing to mentor others.

Obvious, but I meant it. Check out their site. They have some work to do on the collection to better control the quality of the projects there, but it doesn’t take long to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I really liked this quote from @KubiKahn. He is exactly right. Randomly numbering kids for groups when the product results in many grades is not the fair way to do things. Match strengths with weaknesses as a group. Don’t set the group up for failure. It’s not fair, and it will only cause you grief down the road.

 Suzie is another master of PBL and a part of BIE’s national faculty. She is a published author on integrating PBL and this link was a great resource to add for the day. Looking for something new for an ice breaker? Take a look at these.

So, that’s day 2. I’ll get to work on day 3 next. I won’t make you wait long. I promise. Thanks for reading along. By the way, if you decide you are interested in PBL training from BIE in Texas, TCEA has an upcoming training scheduled in Austin October 25-27. Get in soon. There were only a handful of spots left last I checked.

53 thoughts on “PBL and Buck Institute for Education Day 2

  1. I’m with you, Steve. We just have to continue to improve the learning environments so that the assessments that are done will not deter from the learning any more thanit has to. I wish we could do away with the grades side of things. I don’t care for rank and rating. But until the United States and my state of Texas deems otherwise, it is part of the equation.

    And, we state test them MULTIPLE times every year starting in 3rd grade. A fact I am not proud of whatsoever. It is an embarrassing, costly, negative, intrusive waste of learning time.

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