Many years ago, I worked in a school where student learning involved solving real-world problems. One example is when third graders interviewed city transportation officials as well as school district operations managers, parents, and staff to design a new parking lot and traffic pattern for the congested unsafe lot. They used math to design model plans and persuasive writing techniques to convince district officials to make necessary changes. We brought in district state representatives to listen to 4th graders describe how their research on urban development was affecting water run-off and killing off salmon populations in our local rivers. Fifth graders researched data on how many books the library lost each year and created PSAs including posters and video announcements to increase awareness and understanding of the problem. These projects were based on real issues affecting them. Research, collaboration, communication was done with thoughtful planning, assessment, and reflection.
As I researched the framework for 21st century learning, I was reminded that the learning our students did 16 years ago is now labeled as Project Based Learning (PBL).
We continue to investigate the ISTE Coaching Standards.
Standard 1: Visionary Leadership
d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms
Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences
Standard 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth
a. Engage in continual learning to deepen content and pedagogical knowledge in technology integration and current and emerging technologies necessary to effectively implement the ISTE·S and ISTE·T standards
My guiding question connected to the above ISTE Coaching Standards is:
How does the Project Based Learning (PBL) teaching method integrate the 21st century learning framework and what does coaching look like for PBL?
DiSpezio recognizes that this in-context learning where students actively construct understanding based upon a self-directed approach to real-life problems rather than just memorizing facts has been documented as successful since Piaget’s time. The kinds of activities that keep students engaged and ensure higher level thinking skills are what students need to be successful citizens. How PBLs discern from learning activities years ago is that the specific learning standards and skills are identified and activities support the P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning where teachers consider life and career skills, learning and innovation skills, and information and technology skills. Drew Perkins suggests that student learning is about moving students from consumers and creators to contributors where they are adding value to the community and perhaps the world at large. The PBL model allows for students to be those effective contributors.
PLANNING & PREPARATION=SUCCESS
Perkins explains that there is an art and science to PBL in order to understand how to set-up questions and when to question for inquiry based learning. We want students to struggle productively. We need to learn to be patient with students but not let them give up. As instructional coaches helping teachers create PBLs, it’s important to help teachers develop essential questions but also make sure students are interested and feel the project, process, and outcome are important. In PBL workshop trainings for teachers, we need to ensure teachers feel like the learner and engage with them to create opportunities so they then can turn around and create similar opportunities for their students. We also need to understand that Professional Development days don’t work. If we want students to succeed in a project where inquiry, research, and activities are done at different paces and in different modes, we need to be available if teachers need guidance and ways to support their students.
What excites me are the opportunities teachers have to create promising learning activities allowing for creative curious thinkers. I have a responsibility as a peer coach and instructional leader, to help students and teachers navigate the teaching and learning going forward so all students are successful
DiSpezio, M. (2016, September 23). How problem-based learning in the classroom can be a real world tool for 21st century learning. Retrieved from http://www.hmhco.com/media-center/blogs/2016/september/problem-based-learning-dispezio
Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration.
ISTE standards for coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches
Perkins, D. (2016, October 20). The Ripple Effect: Creating community change through schools [Audio blog interview]. Retrieved from https://soundcloud.com/getting-smart/s2e9-the-ripple-effect-creating-community-change-through-schools
Perkins, D. (2016, November 03). Moving students from consumers to creators to contributors. Retrieved from http://wegrowteachers.com/2016/10/24/moving-students-consumers-creators-contributors/?utm_content=buffer0757b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Spear, K. (2015, September 18). My PBL failure: 4 tips for planning successful PBL. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/pbl-failure-planning-successful-pbl-katie-spear