PBL: bringing together divergent theories, strategies and tools #EDMT5500

My last blog post was about what my students in the Introduction to Teaching and Learning course at Sydney University have been learning about this semester. A lot of the conversations that we’ve had are around bringing together this broad range of ‘edu stuff’ in the classroom? Well, it’s become a bit of a running joke that my answer to everything is ‘PBL’ … but, for real, all of these things DO come together beautifully in project based learning. Let’s have a look at just how that can be the case.

I break my PBL into three parts (I call these ‘cycles of learning’ in my class) that roughly equates to the assessment that takes place during each project – they’re being assessed formatively twice and summatively once. Each cycle of learning engages with a variety of the learning strategies, tools and theories. (Sorry about the randomly coloured fonts … this post is kind of a thinking post for me as I prepare for tomorrow’s seminars, lol!)


BIE 8 ESSENTIALS OF PBL: In-depth inquiry, Driving Question, Need to Know and Significant Content

METAPHORS FOR LEARNING: Campfire, Waterhole and Cave

Punk Learning: students generating punk questions and designing own projects

DESIGN THINKING: Intending – Establish needs wants and goals. Defining – Name, list and describe what is involved. Exploring – Imagine, organize and analyze possibilities.

STRATEGIES: KWL table, speed-dating, think/pair/share, think/puzzle/explore

TOOLS: Diigo, YouTube, Edmodo, blogging, ClassDojo

THEORIES: Blooms Taxonomy (Remembering, Understanding, Analysing), SOLO Taxonomy (Unistructural, Multistructural), Quality Teaching Framework (Deep Knowledge, Deep Understanding, Problematic Knowledge, Higher-order Thinking, Engagement, Social Support, Students’ Self-Regulation, Student Direction, Students’ Self-Regulation, Background Knowledge, Cultural Knowledge), 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning (Story Sharing, Learning Maps, Symbols and Images)


BIE 8 ESSENTIALS OF PBL: Voice & Choice and Revision & Reflection


DESIGN THINKING: Suggesting – Decide, present and explain your proposal. Innovating – Continually improve as you produce what is proposed.

STRATEGIES: hexagonal thinking, master and apprentice, think/puzzle/explore, goals/medals/missions,

TOOLS: Edmodo, ClassDojo, blogging

THEORIES: Blooms Taxonomy (Applying, Creating, Evaluating), SOLO Taxonomy (Relational), Quality Teaching Framework (Higher-order Thinking, Substantive Communication, Engagement, Explicit Quality Criteria, High Expectations, Social Support, Students’ Self-Regulation, Inclusivity), 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning (Deconstruct/Reconstruct, Non-Linear, Symbols and Images, Non-Verbal)


BIE 8 ESSENTIALS OF PBL: Public Audience and 21st Century Skills


Punk Learning: self-assessment using the ‘Punk Learner’ rubric

DESIGN THINKING: Goal-getting – Judge, measure and evaluate your success. Knowing – Remember, integrate and apply what you learn.

STRATEGIES: goals/medals/missions, master and apprentice, think/puzzle/explore,

TOOLS: Edmodo, ClassDojo, Slideshare, Scribd, Blurb, Twitter, YouTube

THEORIES: Blooms Taxonomy (Evaluating), SOLO Taxonomy (Extended Abstract), Quality Teaching Framework (Engagement, Explicit Quality Criteria, High Expectations, Social Support, Connectedness, Narrative, Cultural Knowledge, Knowledge Integration), 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning (Community Links, Land Links, Story Sharing)


4 thoughts on “PBL: bringing together divergent theories, strategies and tools #EDMT5500

  1. Wow. Now I understand why my (limited) forays into the world of PBL felt so raw and frustratingly shallow. Thankyou for sharing this much richer, deeper version. I’m inspired again.

  2. So great to discover your blog Bianca! I love it. One of the great challenges of using student centred, contemporary approaches to teaching is to find frameworks/descriptors that help articulate what it is “all about” and to pull together what can seem like fragmented (though complimentary) approaches, tools and strategies. Where PBL is your meta-organiser…mine is Inquiry based learning. I use inquiry as the ‘big picture’ philosophy, pedagogy and planning framework that “hosts” project based, problem based, early years discovery learning, design thinking, etc. So interesting to explore ways to meaningfully synthesise…thank you for your post and for contributing to my own thinking. Kath

  3. Have you heard of the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. It is strongly connected to project based learning. Though it was pioneered as early childhood learning, I have been applying it to my first and second grade combined classes.

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