The Essential Elements of Project Based Learning to Motivate and Engage Students

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This session will provide teachers with the tools and knowledge to help students investigate the world, recognize perspectives, communicate ideas, and take action through project based learning. Teachers will learn how to craft meaningful driving questions to promote rich inquiry in order to prepare students to be college, career, and civic ready. Specific examples, tools, resources and suggestions will be shared.
Presenter(s): Justyn Knox

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  • This session will provide teachers with the tools and knowledge to help students investigate the world, recognize perspectives, communicate ideas, and take action through project based

    learning. Teachers will learn how to craft meaningful driving questions to promote rich inquiry in order to prepare students to be college, career, and civic ready. Specific examples, tools,

    resources and suggestions will be shared.
  • This session will present the essential elements of project-based learning in social studies classrooms to help teachers prepare their students to become college, career, and civic ready. Teachers will learn how to create a culture of inquiry in their classroom and the effective guidelines for project based learning within their social studies classrooms.
  • Note that this is one approach to inquiry. There are also other approaches such as problem based learning.
  • Must think about your standards and your skills (significant to teachers and students.)
    Need to be successful in the workplace
    Modeled, practiced, assessed, feedback

    It is recommended to choose 1-3 standards and choose 1-2 21st century learning skills for each project.

  • So if we think about what our classrooms should look like –it should involve these aspects if we are preparing our students to be college, career, and civic ready.

    Not google
    In-Depth inquiry and innovation is marked by students finding their own unique way of solving a problem

    Element of Innovation---not just repackaging information
  • Steve

    Effective Questioning is the key to inquiry. This should be something that students CANNOT simply go to google and find the answer or ask SIRI on their iphone to find the right answer. Inquiry often times involves multiple perspectives support with evidence. It takes students on a journey and involves a unique way of solving problems.

    Questioning in SS can often be connected to disciplinary literacy. Students can explore questions through the different lenses of the social sciences. How would a historian explore a question? An economist? A Geographer? Etc.

    Michelle's Comments : As you know in our past webinars and professional development trainings we have stressed asking students 3 different types of question in Unit Development. They are “Factual, Provocative and Conceptual” We know that asking higher order factual questions are great for helping students understand content knowledge. However for the purposes of this webinar we are going to focus on why “Proactive” and “Conceptual questions” are better QUESTIONS to drive inquiry in social studies.

    Resource for bullets (last bullet adapted for our CBCI information) -
  • Ann

    MOST IMPORTANTLY , effective questions capture issues that are important to students. The planned daily lessons and activities, should be trying to help students answer the question. Whether it's a mini-lesson on small activity----the work needs to connect to the question. This is so that the day-to-day lessons and activities now have reason, relevancy and purpose. We also need to identify the issue or problem for which it posed within its historic context   (e.g. Did the flapper have to degrade herself in order to liberate herself?)

    Effective questions must come from and be aligned to the essential standards so that it requires students to learn the necessary content

    Effective questions should be proactive --They must challenge students to rethink big ideas. This will lead to genuine and relevant inquiry, not just easy answers. Questions should NOT be “googleable” but should have unique answers for each students -engaging them in an in-depth inquiry. Proactive questions may have multiple perspectives but should be supported by evidence.

    4. Effective questions should be Real Dilemmas—Thus, they Are relevant in multiple settings whether it be in the history and science classroom, the evening news or a student’s personal life

    This  creates an interest and a feeling of challenge so that even the most reluctant student thinks, "Hmmm, I guess that sounds kinda cool.
    It helps student answer the question: "Why are we doing this?" This is the Golden Question that many administrators ask students when they are visiting. If your driving question is good, it can help connect that work so that students can articulate the reason behind daily lessons and activities

    5. Effective questions spark meaningful connections to prior knowledge and experiences.

    6. Effective questions organizes inquiry----and lead to more questions i
  • ANN

    There are four different types of questions for inquiry

    First, Philosophical questions that debate life’s big questions. An example of a philosophical question is: When is war justified?
    Next, there are questions that

    Next , there are questions that lead students to inventing or creating a products. An example of such a question would be: How can we plan an event that creates or celebrates the history of our community?

    Problem Solving questions pose a challenge for students to solve through research. An example of this type of question would be: Why do civilizations fail?

    Finally, by adding a real world role we are adding authenticity, rigor, and depth which enables them to build an understanding of their future roles and responsibilities. An example of this type of question may be: What responsibilities, if any, does the government have in maintaining a middle class?

  • We are going to talk about how to refine each one of these problems that many teachers run into when crafting good driving questions.

    Often times teachers make their questions to direct, not fully engaging to students and to general. We are going to look at some examples of how this occurs and practice with how to fix these mistakes.

    Michelle comments ---should include conversation about the higher thinking that can come from making some of your questions conceptual or provocative?

    Michelle's Question/Comment When should Essential Questions be asked?
    Should “driving questions” sometimes be strategically placed in the instruction or does it matter? –It’s important to think about when you should ask your driving question. Sometimes you cannot introduce it until some pretty important content knowledge may have been covered. At other times students are discovering that content knowledge through the essential question.
  • So as we think about INQUIRY--_What are the problems with these questions

    So do these questions encourage in depth inquiry? NO! They are google-able! --The problem we see with all of these questions is that they are very concrete. All students have to do is simply go to google and type them in and the answer will appear.
    --Questions do not require multiple activities, synthesizing, and analyzing much information. We want to go beyond the knowledge here and go to a deeper meaning.

    So let’s talk some about driving questions in this model.
  • Steve

    Here is what we came up with. Rephrasing our questions in this manner help our students to use inquiry and research to answer the question. These types of questions are going to require multiple activities and the synthesis of different types of information before it can be answered.

    Notice that these are all proactive questions (Some are conceptual proactive and some are conceptual factual)
  • Here are some broad examples of driving questions in the different disciplines.

    However you will notice that many of these questions have interdisciplinary ties. For example if we look at the question in the History strand “What is the Price of Progress” would easily tie this in with Math, Science, ELA, to build interdisciplinary connections that align with several cross curricular standards. It’s important that we help students see that learning happens across multiple disciplines as they use inquiry?
  • Choose one question---how would you make it more engaging to students? Type your answer on the padlet

    While they are thinking:
    -We don’t want our questions to sound too textbook. These questions are not going to motivate or excite students. They are not going to make the average student have a “Need to Know” them. We want our questions to be phrased so that students are still learning the content knowledge while gaining a deeper and more relevant meaning.
  • Here are some possible revisions.
  • Again…How would you change one of these questions to make in not sound so standards based and academic for students? Type your answer of the padlet page

    While they are thinking:
    Many teachers feel the need to plug the content in the question. But are students going to get all of that content to actually answer the question (YES) How are you going to create lessons and learning experiences for them to

    Essential questions that sound like generalizations are not exciting and do not DRIVE the learning, which brings me to my next point.
  • Two Options—This is our LAST one 
    Change these general questions to a call to action for students or localize it to your own local community. (Write your question on the padlet)

    While they are thinking?
    While these are not bad driving questions we can still revise to them to make them much more relevant to students by adding a call to action factor or by bringing the question to the local community. I want you to think about
  • Here are some possible suggestions for revision to reframe the questions for a call to action. In first question we made it local and made a call for action.

    Michelle suggest another Title Here. Maybe we could think of one as a team.
  • Here are some additional other questions to give you more examples of how to localize your essential questions to your community or school.

    Going local will additionally assist in the availability of resources and letting the research lead the student in a local setting can be quite an exhilarating ride!
  • What is important to know in the project?
    Who decides the answers to this question?
    Revisited frequently as project progresses
    What do you need to know in order to create a quality PBL unit?

    Remember that the student is the main actor in this model. He or she has developed the driving question, so that student should also be the one coming up with the list of Need to Knows relating to the question. While you can guide students and facilitate their thinking here, this should be a list of KNOWS and NEED TO KNOWS that the STUDENT develops! Emphasize for the student that this is an iterative process and they will revisit this list again and again. These are not things the teacher decides. It is student focuses, triggered by an ‘entry event’ that gets students thinking.

    Make a list of “Know, Need to Knows”

    Not because it’s on the test, not to please teacher, not to please parents

    Teaching to a test

  • Students learn to work independently and take responsibility when they are asked to make choices.
  • You want to make sure that you have a process in place for providing feedback and opportunities for reflection and revision on the part of the student. It is necessary for students to recognize that they will NOT have a finished product at the first draft and in fact may have to start over. ITS OKAY TO STRUGGLE!

    Let’s take a look at some feedback and reflection examples.
  • Teaching Student’ to give Descriptive Feedback. Point out that this can be done online.
  • Great Protocol for students giving descriptive feedback. Takes time and practice but works wonderfully once students understand the process.

    Discuss with participants the critical friends approach. How many have used it? Strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Most students do not automatically know how to give effective descriptive feedback. This must be modeled, practiced, and continually refined.
  • Ask them what would be an authentic audience USE THE PADLET

    What are authentic purposes?
  • What are real world formats?
  • Have the resources on a handout. Need to include research links as well!
  • The Essential Elements of Project Based Learning to Motivate and Engage Students

    1. 1. The Thinking Classroom: How to Incorporate Inquiry and Project Based Learning Please log onto the internet: http://ssnces.ncdpi.wikispaces. net/Conference+Presentations
    2. 2. K-12 Social Studies Consultants Ann Carlock Justyn Knox Michelle McLaughlin Scott Garren Section Chief K-12 Social Studies Fay Gore NC Character Education Coordinator Program Assistant Bernadette Cole Our Team
    3. 3. Objectives • Discuss implementation of inquiry-based learning in the classroom. • Understand effective guidelines of inquiry- based learning. • Understand how to create a culture of inquiry in your classroom by effective questions that promote inquiry
    4. 4. Essential Elements of Project Based Learning
    5. 5. Significant Content • Critical Thinking • Collaboration • Communication • Creativity and Innovation • Identify important content knowledge by specifying standards that will be taught through the project. • Every standard needs a measurable outcome. 21st Century Skills
    6. 6. In Depth Inquiry • Asking effective questions • Making hypotheses • Supporting answers with research and evidence • Developing new questions as knowledge deepens
    7. 7. Connecting Inquiry to The K-12 Social Studies Concept-Based Framework • Questioning is the heart of inquiry learning. • Students must ask relevant questions and develop ways to search for answers and generate explanations. • Emphasis is placed upon the process of thinking as this applies to student interaction with concepts, big ideas, data, topics, issues, and problems.
    8. 8. Effective Questions • Captures the issues, problem, or challenge • Consistent with curricular standards and frameworks • Open-ended and provocative • Can arise from real-dilemmas that students find interesting • Goes to the heart of a discipline or topic • Organizes Inquiry Adapted from The Buck Institute
    9. 9. Different Types of Questions • Philosophical: When is war justified? • Products: How can we plan an event that creates or celebrates the history of our community? • Problem Solving: Why do civilizations fail? • Real World/Scenario - What responsibilities, if any, does the government have in maintaining a middle class? Adapted from The Buck Institute
    10. 10. Refining Questions Google-able Teacher Language Too Standards Based General Open Ended Engaging for Students Relevant Charge for Action
    11. 11. “Google-able” • What are the major industries in our state? • What were the causes of the American Revolution? • What were the major forms of modern art?
    12. 12. Open Ended • Why does our state produce the things it does? • Could England have avoided the revolt of the American colonies? • Does modern art reflect or inspire society?
    13. 13. Abstract What is justice? When is war justified? What is a hero? Concrete Are amusement park rides safe? Is our water at our school safe to drink? Can DNA evidence be trusted? Problem Solving How can we improve traffic flow at our school? Design Challenge How could we create a school mural to express our diversity within our school? History What is the price of “progress”? Was the American Revolution justified? What effect does the Civil War still have on us today? How can we bring peace to the Middle East? Social Studies What is the American Dream and who has it? How do immigrants meet the challenges of coming to a new country? Do victors really benefits from winning wars? How should we respond to terrorism? English Why are books banned? How do we persuade others? How does literature reflect the time in which it was written? Art How does art reflect its time? Is art worth its price? Should art be censored? Geography How does the place we live in affect how we live? How can we use geography to interpret the past? How do human actions modify the physical environment? Government Do we have too much freedom? What is the best form of government? How should criminals be treated? Should the Bill of Rights be revised? Science How will the land we live on change over time? Can we predict the weather? How can we stop the spread of infectious diseases? Should we produce genetically engineered foods? Math Is it better to buy or lease a car? How can we use probability to assess the state lottery system? Can we predict the growth of a websites use?
    14. 14. Sounds too Much Like a Teacher • What did the ancient Greeks contribute to the development of Western Civilization? • Should there be more development in wilderness areas in North Carolina? • What were the causes of the Great Depression?
    15. 15. Engaging for Students • Did the ancient Greeks help make us who we are today? OR How Greek are we? • Should a new shopping center be built on the land by the river near our town? • Could the Great Depression happen again?
    16. 16. Avoid Repeating the Standards How effective were various approaches such as boycotting, picketing, and sit- ins used to impact NC laws? 8.C&G.2.1 Evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches used to effect change in North Carolina and the United States (e.g. picketing, boycotts, sit-ins, voting, marches, holding elected office and lobbying). 6.E.1.1 Explain how conflict, compromise, and negotiation over the availability of resources (natural, human and capital) impacted the economic development of various civilizations, societies and regions. STANDARDS QUESTIONS Is China a powerful country today of it’s conflict compromise and negotiation over natural resources?
    17. 17. Aligned to Standards without restating them Is breaking the law ever justifiable? Why is China a powerful nation? Are we like China or not? STANDARDS QUESTIONS
    18. 18. Too General • What is a hero? • Which advertising techniques are most effective? • Why did the explorers journey to the Americas?
    19. 19. • Who are the heroes in our community and how can we tell their stories? • How can we create a guide for other kids so they will know how advertisers try to get us to buy stuff? • How can we, as explorers, create a planning guide for leading an expedition?
    20. 20. Go LOCAL • How can we help a small local business improve their advertising? • Should the city of Raleigh allow street artist to help gentrify the downtown area? • How do we design an exhibit on the Iroquois nation for the NC Museum of Natural History
    21. 21. Need To Knows • Work that MATTERS! • Students are more motivated to learn KNOWS NEED TO KNOWS
    22. 22. Voice and Choice • Student Ownership • Independent Thinkers • Differentiated Instruction
    23. 23. Revision and Reflection • Constant and ongoing • Variety in feedback is a key factor – Self reflection, peer to peer, teacher
    24. 24. Peer Feedback • Video Writing Peer Review (Top 10 Mistakes)
    25. 25. Authentic Audiences • A Younger Students • The community (Newspaper, local businesses, organizations) • A Scientist • A Historical Figure • Governmental Officials • School Leaders • Parents • Family Members • Friends
    26. 26. Authentic Purposes • Take a stand • Persuade specific audience to commit to your perspective or cause • Alter a perspective • Take on a different perspective • Explain a process • Analyze an event, experimental results, statistics • Educate a group on a topic, procedure, or event • Relay scientific findings • Relay and opinion
    27. 27. Real World Formats • Letter • Article • Social Media • Presentation • Debates • Experiments • Role Play/Drama Narrative • Lab Reports • News Program • Talk show • Timeline • Maps, Charts, & Graphs • Data Displays • Diagrams • Diary Entry
    28. 28. Does The Inquiry? • Focus on Significant Content • Develop 21st Century Skills • Engage Students in In-Depth Inquiry • Organize task around a Driving Questions • Establish a need to know • Encourage Voice and Choice • Incorporate Revisions and Reflection • Include a Public Audience
    29. 29. Resources • Buck Institute • Leading Project Based Learning • Birth of the Tubric • Project-Based Learning 4 All • Teach 21 • Edutopia • The Inquiry Arc: Preparing Students to Be College, Career, and Civic Ready • Global Project Based Learning
    30. 30. Research • The Evidence Base for Social Studies: Inquiry-Based Learning • Educational Leadership: What Research Says About Project Based Learning • Edutopia's Project Based Learning Research Review
    31. 31. • What instructional or assessment practices will you adapt in your classroom after this session? • Share with me success, challenges, or questions • •