Week 9

Essential question: What practical structures could we use to implement PBL in our classrooms?

         The more that I learn about Project Based Learning the more I see that this is not what I am doing in class. I thought I was doing PBL but I was just “doing projects.” I looked at the chart on http://www.friedtechnology. com/#!stuff/c243p showing the difference between “Doing Projects” and Project Based Learning.” When I was looking at the chart, I could see that most of the things that I do fall on the “Doing Projects” side.

On the Project Based Learning side, I did find that my practice of outlining the projects for the students so they know what they are going to need to complete qualifies as one of “many need to knows on the parts of the teacher and students.” Some others I used are “year after year” and “focus on a product” (e.g., a mobile, poster, etc.). I do have projects that I do year after year but I always change things up. According to the site, PBL is timely and covers many TEKS, and takes a team of highly trained professional to plan and implement.

Another distinction pointed out on the site is that projects are turned in, while outcomes of project-based learning are presented to a group outside the classroom. Looking at the chart, I see some things I am doing as projects that, as I learn more about PBL, I will be able to bring it into my classroom in a more PBL way.

So how do I, as a teacher, implement PBL in my classroom? Ertmer and Simons (2006) note that challenges of implementing PBL include creating a culture of collaboration and implementation, changing roles, and scaffolding students learning and performance. I appreciate that the authors see these things as challenges, because I know it will be difficult for me and other teachers to do these things effectively.

Looking at our last Twitter session, I would say that the 6 D’s from Solution Fluency would be a great start. They are Define, Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver and Debrief. I thought the video was good in how it went through and explained each step. I think this would be a good start for teachers wanting to implement PDL in their classrooms.

I still think it will be difficult for some teachers to implement. For example, some teachers, like me, are not used to group work. For most of my assignments, I have students work on their own. I think it would also be difficult for some students who would rather work alone than in a group. The group dynamics would be difficult to put together. Before I attempt this in my class, I would like to see how another teacher does it and have someone help me implement it. I don’t think I would be comfortable doing this by myself initially. Ertmer and Simons (2006) make a good point that teachers need guidance as they adopt these new roles, facilitate student inquiry, and adjust to a new type of classroom management.

I still feel like I have more to learn about PBL before I can be confident enough to try it in my classroom. I know once I do try it that not only will the students learn but I will, as well. Then we both can reflect on what went well and what needs to be changed for the next time we try it—as we are trained to do with anything new we are trying out. It will take a lot of work, but, as we get the process down, it will become easier. I look forward to a day when I will not only be able to work with PBL gracefully in my classroom, but will have gained the confidence to help others implement it in theirs.


Ertmer, P. A., & Simons, K. D. (2006). Jumping the PBL implementation hurdle: Supporting the efforts of K–12 teachers. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 1(1), 5. Retrieved from: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=ijpbl&sei-redir=1&referer=https%3A%2F%2Fscholar.google.com%2Fscholar%3Fstart%3D10%26q%3Dimplementing%2BPBL%26hl%3Den%26as_sdt%3D0%2C2#search=%22implementing%20PBL%22 on March 9, 2015.

Hmelo-Silver, Cindy E. “Problem-based learning: What and how do students learn?.” Educational psychology review 16.3 (2004): 235-266. Retrieved from: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=13682403&site=ehost-live on March 9, 2015

Mayer, A. (2015). FriEdTechnology.com. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.friedtechnology.com/#!stuff/c243p

Solomon, G. (2003). Project-based learning: A primer. TECHNOLOGY AND LEARNING-DAYTON-, 23(6), 20-20. Retrieved from: http://pennstate.swsd.wikispaces.net/file/view/pbl-primer-www_techlearning_com.pdf on March 9, 2015.

Solution Fluency Video. Global Digital Citizen Foundation. (2015). Retrieved March 13, 2015, from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/solution-fluency-video

4 thoughts on “Week 9

  1. I liked the 6 Ds from the last Twitter session too. I feel like it would be a great direction to follow and you could simplify them as much as needed for students and parents as well.

    Your comment about thinking you were doing PBL but you’re really just doing projects, I had the same thought as I was reading the articles this week. This shocking like maybe my projects aren’t as great/exciting as I thought and maybe that’s what makes them not as exciting to my students.

    I’m not confident enough at this point to do long term PBL in my learning, maybe like the mini lessons, the “portholes,” and that’s still a big maybe. I enjoyed reading your blog this week because I can totally relate to the things you were saying!


    1. I agree with you and I don’t feel confident enough to try PBL yet. It was shocking to me as well. I try to make my projects fun and engaging for the students and I think for the most part they are. When I read about PBL I am thinking are my projects not as good? It is making me question my projects and how I do them. Could be good to reflect on them though.


  2. We’re thinking many of the same thoughts, Theresa! One of my big “a-ha’s” this semester has been recognizing the difference between problem-based learning and a whole bunch of isolated projects that resulted in “products” that really didn’t mean much to students other than a grade. There is good reason to feel hesitant about jumping into PBL — the thought of turning the classroom over to students for so much of what has always been “the teacher’s job” is frightening! However, the research is so overwhelmingly supportive of the positive impact of PBL that it’s hard to NOT want to give it a shot! It really is about changing the teacher’s mindset, more than anything, I guess!


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