How are we doing on this list of “skills and values that will be necessary for students to succeed and prosper in these turbulent and ever-changing times?” (from Pat Bassett’s conflation of six resources as cited in “An Education President for the 21st Century,” Patrick F. Bassett, Independent School, Fall, 2008)
character (self-discipline, empathy, integrity, resilience, and courage);
creativity and entrepreneurial spirit;
real-world problem-solving (filtering, analysis, and synthesis);
How do you think schools are doing on this list? What are the exemplar schools that provide great models for ways to help such development happen? What are some exemplar models from other industries and organizations?
[Disclaimer: This post may not make any sense to anyone but me. I am researching 21st C education trends, project-based learning, social and civic responsibility, school transformation, and Common Core State Standards. All through the lens of strategic re-design of school of the future. What follows below is some of the thought-board I am developing, and I felt compelled to share at least some of what I am discovering and thinking about…]
Today, during a Skype conversation with a trusted and highly respected educational colleague, I heard a couple of interesting threads of commentary that have led me on a fascinating research exploration for much of the day.
One of the folks here says PBL is dead. I don’t agree, but there is some strong movement against it.
We call him Pele because he knows where the ball is going, and the ball is currently going to the Common Core State Standards.
You breathe rarified air, and there are tremendous hurdles to implementing PBL in an environment overrun with standardized testing and the Common Core.
While I think that significant, meaningful PBL (capital P) has been largely non-existent in the heavily industrial-age influenced school system of the 20th century, I think PBL has thrived as a human learning paradigm for millennia, and I think PBL is alive and well as a learning methodology. In fact, I think PBL dominates learning before formal schooling, and I believe that PBL dominates the workplace of almost all jobs (if not, ALL jobs). I believe that school transformation and enhancement will necessarily include and integrate PBL. Furthermore, I think the Common Core State Standards not only support PBL, but I believe they demand it! [And I continue to mean capital-P PBL!]
Intriguing videos from Hunt Institute YouTube channel regarding the CCSS:
The English Language Arts Standards: Key Changes and their Evidence
At the end of the video, David Coleman speaks of “reading like a detective and writing like an investigative journalist.” From my own studying and implementation of capital-P project-based learning, I can think of few other methodologies that create the space and opportunity for student learners to be detectives and investigative journalists who are wrestling with real-life issues that need addressing and innovating.
Literary Non-Fiction in the Classroom: Opening New Worlds for Students
Watching this piece was fascinating! I was both inspired and frightened stiff. On the frightening end, I pictured teachers who take David Coleman’s analysis literally as the recommended pedagogy for deconstructing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birmingham letter and removing many possibilities for self-motivated discovery and heart-touching. At the inspiring end, I was moved by MLK’s language and by thinking about a group of students searching for this letter after engaging with a community issue about fairness, justice, equality, and rights. I imagined this letter as a digestible resource for students who created a need-to-know about the letter because of the context with which they approached the letter. [Interestingly, I never experienced this letter as part of my formal, school-based education. In fact, I am embarrassed to admit that this video viewing may have been the first time I read the entire letter. The content reminded me of many of the reasons that I am working for school reform and transformational enhancement.]
Quotes from the CCSS website that point to PBL:
Research—both short, focused projects (such as those commonly required in the workplace) and longer term in depth research —is emphasized throughout the standards but most prominently in the writing strand since a written analysis and presentation of findings is so often critical.
– Writing: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/key-points-in-english-language-arts
An important focus of the speaking and listening standards is academic discussion in one-on-one, small-group, and whole-class settings. Formal presentations are one important way such talk occurs, but so is the more informal discussion that takes place as students collaborate to answer questions, build understanding, and solve problems.
– Speaking and Listening: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/key-points-in-english-language-arts
The standards help prepare students for real life experience at college and in 21st century careers.
– Language: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/key-points-in-english-language-arts
The standards stress not only procedural skill but also conceptual understanding, to make sure students are learning and absorbing the critical information they need to succeed at higher levels – rather than the current practices by which many students learn enough to get by on the next test, but forget it shortly thereafter, only to review again the following year.
– Math: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/key-points-in-mathematics
The high school standards call on students to practice applying mathematical ways of thinking to real world issues and challenges; they prepare students to think and reason mathematically.
The high school standards set a rigorous definition of college and career readiness, by helping students develop a depth of understanding and ability to apply mathematics to novel situations, as college students and employees regularly do.
The high school standards emphasize mathematical modeling, the use of mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, understand them better, and improve decisions. For example, the draft standards state: “Modeling links classroom mathematics and statistics to everyday life, work, and decision-making. It is the process of choosing and using appropriate mathematics and statistics to analyze empirical situations, to understand them better, and to improve decisions. Quantities and their relationships in physical, economic, public policy, social and everyday situations can be modeled using mathematical and statistical methods. When making mathematical models, technology is valuable for varying assumptions, exploring consequences, and comparing predictions with data.”
– Math: http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/key-points-in-mathematics
Literacy equals mastery across academic disciplines.
– Callout in Hunt Institute video about CCSS
At the intersection and confluence of 21st century education and project-based learning, we would have:
Openness. Schools that embrace it and welcome it will thrive. Schools that resist it or imagine that they can control it will struggle significantly.
In sequel to yesterday’s post, I offer this #MustWatch TED Talk by Don Tapscott. Brilliant! In 17 minutes, Tapscott summarizes the essential path points to thriving as a school of the future:
From the admin to the teachers, from the students to the parents…from the interior to the exterior, from the past to the future – the four principles above will define the schools of the future and the future of schools.
If you are serious about enhancing and improving education and school, watch Don Tapscott’s TED. Be a part of, not apart from, the murmuration.
On Monday and Tuesday, June 25-26, Bo Adams and Jill Gough facilitated a ten-hour workshop on PBL at The Center for TeachingSummer Institute (#CFTSI12 on Twitter). With this post (see below the bulleted list), we are hoping to encourage and support the most important part of any conference or institute for professional learning – the “taking-things-back-to-school-to-enhance-learning” part.
CHALLENGE: Many believe that this is actually the best part of the meal. The #CFTSI12 for Synergy and PBL is complete, but the fun, decadent portion has just begun. As we all know, peak learning tends toward project-based experiences, and students long remember the sweetness of the projects that they taste and savor. Additionally, Steven Johnson advocates for coffeehouse environments that create the conditions for great conversations and colliding hunches. So…let’s feed our sweet tooth and share in those magical after-diner-coffee conversations. When (not if!) you implement PBL with your student learners, share the plates and cups with the entire table – POST your writing, resources, insights, and struggles regarding your PBL implementations. If you have a blog, please consider cross-posting to Synergy2Learn as a contributing author. If you don’t have a blog of your own, we still invite you to post to our collective-wisdom site for PBL – Synergy2Learn.
When you are ready to share and contribute, email Jill and Bo, and we will set you up as “contributors” to the Synergy2Learn PBL blog.
After you are set up as a contributing author, you can keep on posting about your pursuits and accomplishments with PBL.
Even if you did not physically participate in the #CFTSI12 for Synergy and PBL, this offer still applies!
Amazing stories of PBL experiments, implementations, and accomplishments from our #CFTSI12 participants and blog readers (hopefully!)…
[On Tuesday, June 26, as part of the Center for Teaching’s annual Summer Institutes, Bo Adams and Jill Gough are facilitating day 2 of a two-day workshop on PBL (project-based learning, problem-based learning, place-based learning, passion-based learning, etc.). The online course description is linked below, and the outline for day 2 follows. The pre-institute assignment (the “appetizers”) and a short description of the “flights” structure can be found here, and the outline for day 1 is here.]
EL #1: I can share my deep understanding of PBL through PBL methods and pedagogies, as well as with direct-instruction and conversation.
EL #2: I can commit to PBL with student learners by working through stages of rapid-prototype planning, implementing, and assessing.
8:30 – 9:15 a.m.
Fail more…Fail Faster (Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail Reprise) Flight
With your partner, use your PBL storyboard and developing asset pool to continue building your PBL multi-media tool. Remember to review the good thinking and storyboarding of other groups – it’s not “stealing,” it’s sharing and collaborating!
Review and revise assets you made for self-selected “HW” last night…recycle, re-design, re-purpose, re-build,…
At 9:00, we’ll do a quick sub-team check-in – by jigsawing among sub-teams – before we move on with the next flight. (Suggested protocol: THE 5 WHYS)
9:15 – 10:00 a.m.
Bloom’s Got Nothin’ On Us Flight
Quiet reflection – place some of your current project work on a copy of the Adams-Gough Taxonomy.
Brief share-out and mediated journal of possibilities for working in capital-P PBL (upper-right quadrant).
10:00 – 11:00 a.m.
I Am Not a Commitment-phobe Flight
Using DESIGN THE BOX or COVER STORY, create a model and story to share with the group. The model and story should share a PBL idea that you will commit to implementing with your student learners in the first semester of 2012-13.
At 10:35, we will hear 2-3 minute presentations from each designer/group.
During each presentation, contribute post-it feedback: 1) I like…, 2) I wonder…, 3) I want to know more about…
11:00 – 11:59 a.m.
Pardon Our Noise…It’s the Sound of PBL Construction Flight
Time to complete the next iteration of your rapid-prototype design for the multi-media PBL tool.
Time to workshop some of the feedback that undoubtedly will arise from the “I Am Not a Commitment-phobe” Flight.
Time to question, question, question – they are waypoints on the path of wisdom.
Lunch…PBL really stirs an appetite (especially on Day Two)!
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
On the TEDxCFT/IGNITE Stage Flight
Each sub-team will have 15 minutes: 5 minutes for presentation of their multi-media PBL tool + 8 minutes of Q & A + 2 minutes of transition.
Synergy-PBL: Questions are waypoints on the path of wisdom #CFTSI12 (After 3)
Coffee and Dessert: What Will Sweeten Your Teaching After #CFTSI12?
(180 Days of Possibility in 2012-13 – Keeping the Conversation Going)