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Week Two: Archive

Page history last edited by betty.ray@edutopia.org 13 years, 7 months ago


Week Two Activities: Build Your Team, Plan Together

We have two goals for this week:

1.     Form a project team with a few colleagues (Activity 1, below) 

2.     Start planning your project. (Activities 2-4, below) 


Scheduled live event this week:

Twitter chat with Suzie Boss and Betty Ray 

Monday, July 19, 1 p.m. PDT/4 p.m.EDT


Hashtag: #pblcamp 


We'll check in and share how everyone's doing with PBL Camp and answering any questions you might have.  This is also a good opportunity to network with other campers. 


To join the chat: 

Log into your Twitter account and follow #pblcamp. Or use a service like Tweetchat.com which will present the chat in a neater format. You might also want to follow chat leaders @suzieboss and @bettyray.  


Chat transcript posted here.


Activity 1: Build Your Team

Teamwork is central to PBL, so it only makes sense to tackle project planning as a team effort. This week, form a project team with a few colleagues. You will be able to give each other useful feedback as you move ahead with project planning.


A) Best Practices for Building a Project Team: Planning Ahead 

Think about how you want to collaborate. Some of you may decide to design and implement the same project. Working together at the planning stage sets the stage for future collaboration with your classes. Others may prefer to plan your projects individually. That’s fine, too. You will still benefit from having teammates at this stage to give each other helpful feedback and review. The result will be stronger project plans—and a better experience for your students. Plus, you will be practicing the collaboration skills that you’ll want your students to use during project implementation.


Think about who you want on your dream team. Chances are, you’ll want to form teams with colleagues teaching at similar grade levels. If you’re planning an interdisciplinary project, look for team members with subject area expertise that’s different from yours. If you want to go deep in one content area, stick with team members from your discipline. If you want to bring in team members from outside PBL Camp (such as teachers from your own school), that’s fine, too. It’s up to you!


How will you find your teammates? Here are a few ideas:


B) Finding Potential Teammates   


1) Post in the Collaborators Wanted threads

  • In the Edutopia.org groups, there are now some grade-level threads for you to post your name and a description of the kinds of projects that would interest you. If you have a fairly well thought-out project and want some collaborators to help, spend a little time describing the project here, too. 




  • Browse these threads to find others of a like mind. To contact another camper, click their name to see their profile.  Click the "Send a Message" link underneath their photo. You can suggest other modes of communication, exchange emails and/or phone numbers. We recommend you don't post your email or phone number on any public web page.


2) Browse Wiki or #pblcamp on Twitter for collaborators 

  • You may also come across an interesting potential collaborator via the wiki or Twitter. Again, we suggest posting the URL of your Edutopia.org profile and using the private messaging system there rather than posting your  personal info on the wiki or through Twitter.


3) Use Tools for Connecting:  A variety of tools will help you work together, including email, phone, and Skype. See Tech Tips, below, for more ideas.


C) Best Practices for Collaboration


Collaboration is a skill that gets better with practice. Here are a few tips to help you work together effectively.

Watch a video featuring a collaborative team of teachers from Forest Lake Elementary School. 

Think about: Which practices could you borrow or adapt if your project team members come from different schools?


Read and reflect on these Edutopia blog posts about teacher collaboration:

Taking the Plunge: Diving into a Collaborative Project

Make Project Planning a Collaborative Practice” 

Think about: What benefits do you expect to gain from working on a PBL plan with colleagues? What might be harder about planning this way?



NOTE: Activities 2-4 have to do with project planning. We suggest using the PBL planning form developed by the Buck Institute for Education. Download the Word version to your desktop if you plan to do the project plan yourself.  If you'll be working with a team on the project plan, you'll want to create a wiki page using the project planning template. (Tutorial


This week, we are going to focus on Page 1 of the planning form.  


Activity 2: Draft a Driving Question

In PBL, students work together to answer a real-world question or solve a challenge that matters to them.  As project facilitator, you will be guiding students to find out what they need to know. Starting with a Driving Question sets the stage for this inquiry-driven learning to unfold.  A good Driving Question is both interesting and open-ended—if you can Google the answer, it’s not the right question for framing a project!


Remember: This is just the first draft of your Driving Question. It’s likely to evolve as you continue planning and get feedback from your teammates. You"ll also want to be sure students have “buy in” to the Driving Question—they’ll need to care about answering it.


Want to learn more?   

Here’s a tutorial from PBL-Online that explains more about creating effective Driving Question.


We have started a wiki page to collect the Driving Questions generated by PBL Campers. There are a few here already—please add yours to the list. You’ll be able to borrow and build on each other's good ideas.



Activity 3: Identify Key Content

Good projects help students understand core content and develop important skills. Think about the “big ideas” of the subjects you teach and how they connect to your project idea. In math, for instance, the oil spill offers a real-world opportunity to think about large numbers, measurement, and estimation.  In science, a project on how birds are affected by ocean pollution could address ecosystems, habitat, and living systems.


Now is the time to consider which standards you will address through your project. On the planning form, fill out these two sections: (1) Content and Skills, and (2) 21st Century Skills.


Here are some resources to help you think about standards-based project planning.





Good projects also build key 21st-century skills, such as collaboration, critical thinking, or presenting information.  To help you think about which 21st-century skills your project will likely address, explore the framework developed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills



Activity 4: Write a Project Sketch

At this early planning stage, you want to be able to describe your project in a few sentences. A project sketch will help you share your idea with others, such as potential team members, and invite feedback. It’s not yet a detailed plan, but it’s specific enough to talk about. On the planning form, add your project sketch to the section called Project Idea.


Tip: Get creative when you think about a name for your project. A great title will help you build buzz for the project and make it more appealing to students. Maybe you’ll decide to invite students to help you name the project. That way, it’s “their” project right from the start. 



Week Two Tech Tips: Tools for Collaborating


Continue using these tools from last week:





Ready to expand your toolkit? These tools will help you collaborate with team members:



  •  LearnCentral: Register to use a free online “vRoom” for meeting virtually with up to three colleagues.


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