Monday, October 27, 2014

There Was Gold In Them There Colorado Hills

A Gold standard for PBL - that's what the folks at BIE.org are trying to define. And we are reaching out to all of you who are practicing this in your classrooms and schools. This past week the National Faculty (NF) met for our Fall summit and we had some rich, deep discussions on the topic. My takeaways:

(A). Many people refer to our 8 Essential Elements for PBL. If we are defining the Gold Standard then we need to determine whether we keep these as they are; we change them all; or, we just change key elements. For our summit we decided to start here and we were shown a proposed new look that is far from the finished product. The original 8 elements will probably be changing slightly. For example, Public Audience might be replaced with  Public Product.

Outside of the original hexagon there might be a new layer of teacher/facilitator practices. The idea here is that the teachers will now have specific things to think about as they create,facilitate, and assess projects. My question on this layer is the shape - do we keep it hexagonal or do we use a circular or rectangular shape to show how this layer envelops all of the 8 essential elements.

Look for more on this as we go through the next few months and follow #goldstandardpbl on Twitter.

(B). In our signature PBL 101's we concentrate on helping teachers create projects and we refer to the importance of them taking their students' learning deeper. Who are we educating in these sessions? Adults, of course. 

We acknowledged that we need to do better at educating these teachers. To do this we need to increase our knowledge of adult learners. This was our next focus for our summit - the adult learner. As with all summits I was amazed by the level of knowledge of my fellow NF's. 

We looked at various aspects of learning and we had a very informed discussion from our own Jennifer Klein on the Male and Female Brain. She even gave us a diagram of the 8 essential elements with how each type of brain interacts with that element.

(C) Another key topic in our summit was the idea of PBL Sustainability. As one NF put it, for true sustainability we need to work ourselves out of a job. We want our clients creating a culture of collaboration on their campus. We want our clients growing their own PBL "experts." And, we want our clients creating a culture of learning for all of the stakeholders. Teachers should be co-creating projects with community members and students should be interacting with local companies.

When we have a sustained "gold standard" of PBL in a community or school we will truly have reached the gold standard for education. Then, in fact, we will have worked ourselves out of a job at BIE. And I'd be OK with that.

(D) With each summit I attend I find myself increasingly excited about working with this incredible group of NF's. They come from diverse education backgrounds and experiences and we push each other by questioning accepted norms.  

When you see the book on Gold Standard PBL come out (next Summer?), you can bet that it will have been discussed, analyzed, and vetted by some of the greatest minds in education. And, some of those minds will be BIE's own National Faculty. Feel free to add your thoughts via Twitter. Remember the hashtag: #goldstandardpbl.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014