(Part 1 of 4)  2012 is going to be the year!  You have been thinking about using PBL.  You have been reading about it and/or there’s a teacher in your school  using PBL in the classroom.   But where to start?  My suggestion is to treat it like a recipe.  The first thing you will need to do is gather the ingredients and, maybe, read some other recipes about PBL so you know the basics of the process.

Let’s give you some places to find PBL methods.  First, let’s look at the Buck Institute.  If you are a visual learner then their YouTube channel will be a great place to start.  And, if you are already using Edmodo then I recommend their video about PBL and Edmodo.  But there are other videos from “What is PBL?” to example projects done using PBL.  If you want written help then, by all means visit their Tools Tab for free usable items to help with the PBL process.

Next you can look at the Edutopia website.  On the right side of the page you can join the Project Based Learning Group.  This will give you access to other teachers using or thinking about using PBL. Another good place to find links to information, and a source I go to for information on any (and every) thing education related is Cybraryman’s blog.  Jerry Bloomengarten (Cybraryman) is a keeper of the information and he has dozens of links related to PBL.

You have reviewed the process and you know the basics of what is needed.  Let’s gather the ingredients.  These are from my Edcamp Plano presentation last Spring:  (1)  Start with up-front planning, (2) Add standards to taste, (3)  Mix in a pinch of imagination, (4)  (optional) Add friends/colleagues,  (5) Fold in experience and, (6)  You may need to add more planning.

As you can see these ingredients are the same basic ingredients that go into a batch of “Good Teaching.”  You need to spend time up-front planning because when PBL is done right and you have planned for all contingencies then the process will (almost) take care of itself.  [NOTE:  You WILL have to monitor, monitor, monitor during a normal day in PBL – you can’t sit on your butt!]  And, you can’t avoid any standards that you are expected to be teaching.  What will help is an understanding Curriculum Department in your school and district.  You may (and quite often will) need to rearrange the sequencing so that the project you are planning makes sense to your students.

Next time we look at some ways to start your projects and look for other posts in this series on grouping, managing groups, and final products.   Bon Appetit!

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