Making PBL Stick Part 1: All It Takes is 5 Minutes

As we ramp up for the back to school season, I’m certain that your mind and heart is filled with a ton of ideas that you want to try this year to make it the best year yet. As your checklist grows it’s easy to get swept away with action items; however, I want to encourage you to think about how you might stop the inertia and consider the power of pause. If you want to make project-based learning (PBL) stick this year for your staff it will depend upon your ability to weave in time to hurry up and slow down throughout the year. Can you spare five minutes at the beginning or end of your monthly staff meeting agendas for a little teacher reflection? I bet you can! And if all you have is five minutes, let’s make the most out of it by living the PBL model with your teachers (that makes it a two-for-one teaching and learning special!)

Live the model: Project Reflection in 5

PBL Works has a great student project reflection that I often use when I run Project Reflection and Refinement workshops. When we engage in student PBL practices (with our teacher cap on) we are forced to be reflective and think about how our students are experiencing teaching and learning. When I’m running these workshops I ask teachers to use my version of the Project Reflection worksheet in the same way their students would, with an easy swap of some language so that it reads as if they are thinking about how their project plans were received by students, and how they as a designer can continue to learn and grow from that experience. I take the worksheet one step further and ask teachers to then generate three specific goals for how they will improve not only this project, but other projects in the future.

You can use these goals throughout the year in the following ways:

  • Ask teachers to revisit their personal growth goals for the  year
  • To guide PLC professional learning plans for the year [I bet their goals map onto one of CraftED’s PBL on Demand e-courses!]
  • To revisit their Scope and Sequence and pacing guides-what needs to be reworked?
  • To do an in-depth project tune to improve their project plans for the year.
  • To inform where they would like support in their PBL efforts this year

All of this good stuff can come from just FIVE minutes in your first staff meeting this year. Now that’s what I call juice that’s worth the squeeze!

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Jenny Pieratt is the President and founder of CraftEd. You can find her on Twitter at @Crafted_JennyPieratt

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