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PBL Camp Homepage

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on July 28, 2010 at 4:52:52 pm


Welcome to Week Three of PBL Camp! 


PBL Camp is a four-week online collaboration to give us experience in the planning and implementation of a project for students of all grade levels. The camp is underway, but you may view an archive here: 


Week 1 Archive



Week 2 Archive 




Camp Technical Requirements 

You will need a computer with an internet connection and a web browser.  Note: The technologies we'll use in PBL Camp will NOT work in Internet Explorer 6. If you are running IE 6, please upgrade Internet Explorer  to participate in this camp. 




Week Three Activities: Map Out Your Project Plan


We have two goals this week:

  1. Map out the learning activities that will happen during your project
  2. Plan ahead for resources, expert connections, and technologies your students will need.


Note: We recommend working with a team of colleagues to map out your project plan. Even if team members take a project idea in different directions for implementation in their own classroom, you will benefit from sharing ideas and giving each other feedback. Of course, you are free to work individually if you prefer. We suggest you continue using the project planning from provided by the Buck Institute for Education.


Need help setting up your project page? See Create a Project Planning Document tutorial.


Activity 1: Attend the Webinar on Connecting with Experts


Week Three starts with a webinar:


Connecting with Experts

Monday, July 26

1 p.m. PDT/4 p.m. EDT


Archive for the July 26 webinar available here.


Overview: PBL often involves connecting your students with experts who can help them answer their questions. We’re going to model that in this week’s webinar. This is your chance to learn from experts about three topics that are likely to arise during your projects: Service-Learning, Citizen Science, and Student Publishing. Get acquainted with our guests before the event and be thinking about questions you’d like to ask them:


  • Barry Guillot on Service-Learning

 Barry Guillot is a seventh-grade science teacher at Harry M. Hurst Middle School in Destrehan, Louisiana. In 1997, he started the LaBranche Wetland Watchers project as part of a school-wide emphasis on service-learning. He combines activities designed to serve the community with specific learning objectives that immerse students in real-world science.


Learn more about Barry Guillot and the Wetland Watchers:


          Handouts from Barry Guillot:


  • Laura Burkholder and Jennifer Fee on Citizen Science

 Laura Burkholder and Jennifer Fee are joining us from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to talk about citizen science projects. Laura is the NestWatch project leader and Jennifer is the BirdSleuth project leader. These are inquiry-based science projects that your students can take part in. Scientists at the Cornell Lab have a need for real data about birds to track the long-term effects of the Gulf crisis.



  • Susan Ettenheim and Paul Allison on Student Publishing

 Susan and Paul are co-hosts of Teachers Teaching Teachers, a weekly webcast and companion website. They also coordinate Youth Voices, an online space for students to share and discuss their work. Susan teaches at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in New York. Paul teaches at East-West School of International Studies in Flushing, Queens. This summer, they have been leading weekly conversations about how to engage students in responding to the Gulf disaster. Giving students a voice through online publishing is a key strategy, and they have considerable expertise to share about best practices for student publishing.


Tip: After the webinar, think about how you might connect with experts for your project. What kind of content questions might arise? Who in your community could be a resource? How will you get your students ready to make the most of their time with experts?


Activity 2: Think about the Anatomy of Your Project


This week, your main focus is to continue building your project plan. Many of you are off to a good start with a driving question and a project sketch (and maybe a catchy project title). Now is the time to get more concrete about what will actually happen when the project unfolds.


Think about your project as an arc. Right now, you’re in the planning phase—before students ever enter the picture. You’ve framed the project with an intriguing driving question and have identified key content that you plan to address. Soon, you’ll introduce students to the project. Ideally, this will happen with an entry event that hooks their interest and fires up their curiosity. Then they’ll dive into a variety of learning activities which will help them understand what they need to know to answer that driving question. This will lead to a culminating event where students share what they have learned with an authentic audience. Then to cement learning, students will reflect on the whole experience.


Case Study: To think about what needs to happen at each of these stages, let’s explore a video case study about one project. Watch the Edutopia video “Anatomy of a Project: Soil Superheroes.”


As you watch, look for ideas you may want to borrow. For example:

  • What will your project calendar look like? Soil Superheroes was a semester-long project. If you are planning a shorter project (smart idea if you’re new to PBL!), what needs to happen between kickoff and culminating event? How will you make the best use of class time? How much time do you expect students to spend outside of class?


  • What will students produce? Final product of Soil Superheroes was an informational yet entertaining brochure about bacteria. How do you want your students to share what they have learned? Do you want them all to produce a similar product, or would you prefer to leave room for more choice?


  •  How will you engage with experts and others in your community? Soil Superheroes brought in a university scientist as well as a cartoonist. Community members provided authentic feedback. What kind of expertise will your students need? Who could help?


  • Students working on Soil Superheroes saved their work-in-progress to folders on their school server. How could technology tools help your students stay organized throughout their project?


Resources for Activity 2:  Want to see an example of a completed planning form?

  • Buck Institute for Education shares examples of completed forms in its “Useful Downloads” section.  (NOTE: Free site registration is required to download documents.) 


Science Leadership Academy, a PBL school in Philadelphia, maintains a showcase of projects.


Here are more resources to help you map out what you’ll want to include in your project plan: 


Activity 3: Plan Ahead for Technology Tools, Experts, and Other Resources

The project planning form includes a section to list Resources Needed. Now’s the time to get specific about project materials, equipment, and community resources—including experts who can help students answer content questions. (This week's webinar should give you some ideas for how to connect with experts.)


At this stage, you also should be thinking about technology tools that will help your students accomplish what they need to do throughout the project.


How will you choose from the wide range of technologies available? Take a look at this excerpt from Reinventing Project-Based Learning. It prompts you to focus first on the essential learning functions you want to achieve—such as deep learning, reflection, or collaboration. Then, for each function, you will see suggestions for a variety of digital tools. The goal in planning for technology use isn’t to overwhelm students (or yourself!) with new tools. It’s to choose the right tech tools to enable your students to accomplish meaningful learning. 



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