Lisa Gonzales Superintendent made her entrance into public education as a middle school math and science teacher. With the idea of having meaningful, purposeful projects that were aligned to standards while providing both voice and choice for students made her wonder….what took her so long?
Four years ago, while a Director of the Santa Clara County Office of Education, I attended a three-day Buck Institute training for Project Based Learning (PBL) and I was hooked.
With the emergence of the Common Core State Standards and the focus on student engagement and defending perspectives and positions, especially on state assessments such as Smarter Balanced, PBL was one research-based, effective model for designing student projects that truly focused on the 21st-century skills.
This model shows the design of PBL, building on the “4 C’s” – communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. PBL brings learning alive. And I’ve observed it…in high-performing communities, in low socioeconomic environments, in rural areas, in inner city schools.
Students also thrive on the flexibility provided by PBL. Students can be evaluated on presentations to a community audience in a variety of ways, from the spoken word to the most advanced of technologies. PBL is also highly effective in its ability to integrate important technology, especially if the levels of Puentadura’s SAMR model are utilized – modification and redefinition. A typical project can easily accommodate websites and apps, as well as interactive whiteboards, global-positioning-system (GPS) devices, digital still cameras, video cameras, and associated editing equipment.
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