#OZPLBLCHAT 28th November: Significant Content & Student Voice and Choice

Tomorrow is our second ever #OZPBLCHAT. If you missed last week’s awesome chat, you can read about it here. There were so many questions that I didn’t get around to answering – I hope that the wrap-up blog post and the storify helped. If not, just add your question as a comment below.
OK, so this week (Monday, 9pm) we are looking at TWO of what BIE called the ’8 ESSENTIALS OF PBL’ and whether you think there should be more or less to PBL, my experience has revealed that all 8 of these elements are essential. Tomorrow we’re looking at two that I think come (or should come) at the beginning of the project-planning cycle: Significant Content & Student Voice and Choice.

If you’ve never planned a PBL project before, you might want to consider checking out the freebies offered by BIE to get you started. You can find them here. I suggest starting with the ‘project calendar’ just to help you get a bit of structure to your project. At that same link is a good PDF on the 8 essentials for PBL too – a worthy read. Also at the same link, scroll down and check out the ‘teaching and learning guide’ – another good document to guide you through the early stages of PBL. I also have a bunch of these files saved in folders in my PBL 1001 edmodo group that you can request to join by using this link here. Finally, you might want to check out the sample projects and resources that have been shared for free in the BIE edmodo community that you can join by clicking this link here.

Before I go through the discussion questions for tomorrow night’s chat, I’ll just let you know that significant content and student voice and choice are things that I have grappled with enormously over the last two years. Sometimes I have felt so much angst about student voice and choice that I’ve wanted to quit PBL altogether because I felt like a fraud. Another time I realised after the project launch that I hadn’t given my students enough voice and choice, resulting in their frustration with the project. I ended up ripping up the project and getting them to create their own projects. Finally, despite my reticence to have projects too driven by me and my secret syllabus needs, I have had great success with well-designed projects that have prompted students to engage directly with significant content from the syllabus as well as content relevant to their own lives/world.

Discussion questions for #OZPBLCHAT:

1. What makes content ‘significant’? (For the teacher and the students.)

2. How do you plan a project around significant (syllabus) content?

3. a. What is ‘student voice’? (AND) b. How do we ensure our students get a voice but also engage with ‘significant content’?

4. a. What types of choices should students be given during projects? (AND) b. How do I give my students a choice?


The inaugural #OZPBLCHAT was awesome – thanks!

On Monday evening, despite feeling far from 100%, I moderated the very first #OZPBLCHAT. I was a bit nervous that not many people would join but the turn-out was awesome … it was so busy in the chat, in fact, that I could barely read any replies to my questions! I guess that would explain the picture below:Yup – the very first #OZPBLCHAT was trending in Australia and it was even showing above #qanda … OK, maybe just for a bit, lol. I was in awe of the great ideas and questions shared and asked by my fellow tweeters. It makes me feel happy knowing that there are so many teachers ready to give up an hour of their time to chat about a different way of teaching – yeah, it’s not the only way of teaching (I hope I made that clear) but is one worth giving a go. I’m not going to go into detail about what was discussed during the chat because I want the tweets to speak for themselves. I have to say a big thank you to my dedicated hubby @waginski who spent most of the chat retweeting awesome tweets and then spent a couple of hours on Tuesday putting together the storify of the best tweets. If you don’t know what a storify is, it’s just a selection of key tweets put into a sort of chronological narrative. You can read part one of the chat here and part two here.

Oh, and for those of you who couldn’t make it, these were the focus questions for the chat. Feel free to add your comments or further questions below:

Q1: What do you KNOW about PBL?

Q2: What do you WANT to know about PBL?

Q3: Why would/should you give PBL a go?

Q4: What have you LEARNT this chat?


Come join us for a chat … an #OZPBLCHAT!

I’ve been tinkering away at project-learning in my classroom since October, 2010. A month or so before that my friend Dean Groom introduced me to this new way of doing things … I imagine he could sense how frustrated I was with trying to integrate technology into my classroom with little purpose or direction. Anyway, if you’ve ever read another post on this blog you’ll know that the rest is history. I’ve stuck with PBL through the failures and the successes, the tantrums and the celebrations. Why? Either I’m just a stubborn git or this project-learning thing has some merit. I’m happy to argue that both are true.

Mid-way through last year I decided to undertake a Master of Education because I felt so passionately about PBL – I wanted to get the data to back up my belief that technology is integrated meaningfully into the classroom only when we use an appropriate pedagogy such as PBL. I wanted to get the data so I could SPREAD THE WORD about the awesomeness of PBL. I wanted all teachers in Australia to give PBL a go and see the impact it will have on them and their students. But guess what? I didn’t need the MEd to do it – people didn’t want ‘research’ data … they wanted to see how it works from a teacher’s perspective, they wanted to see the pit-falls and the joys, they wanted to see that it’s worth doing again and again. And now … there’s HEAPS of interest in PBL!! Yay Australia!!

OK … to get to the point of this post. Due to the massive surge in interest in PBL (and not only tentative interest but people and faculties and even whole schools committing to doing PBL now and very soon!) I have decided that there’s a need for a weekly (or fortnightly depending on the time of term, lol) PBL chat. There’s already #pblchat which is moderated by the beautiful Theresa Shafer of the New Tech Network, but it’s mostly for the US and thus focuses on their standards and Common Core etc. We need an AUSTRALIAN PBL chat! Why? Because we have a new Australian Curriculum that’s being implemented soon and it is SCREAMING for project-learning … so we’re going to have a chat. When? Mondays from 9pm until you all get bored or leave to watch #qanda.

Typically twitter chats are democratic … in that the participants get to select the topic. I’m going to change that. I’m going to go all authoritarian and determine the topics for the rest of the term. How come? Because there isn’t that long to go until the end of the year and I figure there are some key elements of PBL that just need to be covered … namely, BIE’s 8 elements of PBL. So below is a suggested outline of weekly topics for the next 5 weeks. I would, however, love your suggestions for focus questions for each topic – post ‘em as a comment if you’ve got ‘em. These 5 topics take us until the end of term (public school term, that is, haha) and after that we can become democratic e.g. let’s have a holiday and resume the chat when we’re all rested and eager to start a new school year.

Oh, and if you’re not on twitter and don’t want to be, don’t worry! I’ll be collecting all of the best tweets using storify and adding them to a weekly wrap-up blog post :)

Monday 19th November: The what and the why.

-       What is this PBL thing?

-       Why should I care?

Monday 26th November: Significant Content & Student Voice and Choice

Monday 3rd December: Driving Question & Need to know

Monday 10th December: In-depth Inquiry & 21st century skills

Monday 17th December: Revision and Reflection & Presentation