8 Essential Elements of PBL:

Significant Content:

  • Too broad and you lose students
  • Too narrow and you can't meet the requirements of your course
  • Easiest for me to design by unit
  • Don't focus on the minor details, but the major concepts and components essential to your course

21st Century Skills:
  • Communication
  • Collaboration (Not everything needs to be done as a team, but can happen in other ways - peer editing, expert collaboration, small group to large group, pairs, individual components with collaborative moments)
  • Critical Thinking
  • Technology is not a 21st Century skill, but can be incorporated to enhance the other skills

Driving Question:
  • Open-ended
  • Guides student learning
  • I like it to be action oriented, but this isn't required

Googleable: What are the negative environmental effects of mining?
Open-Ended: How can we develop a plan to reduce the negative effects of mining?

Abstract: What is a hero?
Relevant: How can we share stories of local heroes?

General: How do architects use geometry?
Focused: How can we design a pool that meets specifications and falls within our budget?

Teacher-Speak: How does the criminal justice system contribute to recidivism rates?
Student-Friendly: How can we reduce crime in our county?

Need to Know/Engagement Factor:

  • Launch your project to promote engagement
  • Link to the DQ
  • Start the inquiry process
  • Removes the "why do we need to..." question from students
  • Inquiry List is created from this
    • NOT a logistical list of questions
    • Questions should be revisited
    • Can add to and delete as needed
    • Helps the teacher to plan the daily scaffolding that will need to take place to ensure a successful project

In-depth Inquiry:
  • Students should be asking new questions
  • Goes beyond simple research and reporting of research
  • Students are producers and not just consumers of information
  • Data analysis and problem solving

Voice and Choice:
  • This will vary depending on the course and grade level
  • Promotes student ownership
  • Teacher still needs to be in control, however
  • Could be on topic, on design, on final product, on audience choice
  • More advanced practices could lead to the design of their own project and their own DQ

Reflection and Revision/ (now Critique and Feedback):
  • Creates a more professional end product
  • Students are metacognitively involved in their learning
  • Not just about editing writing only
  • Revisit the N2K/Inquiry list

Public Audience:
  • Moving beyond the classroom and the teacher
  • Incorporate experts when possible
  • Expositions should be interactive
  • Panel presentations
  • Letter writing campaigns
  • Online audience must be intentional

The Hidden Demands:

  • Logistics
  • Scaffolding
  • Assessment
  • Differentiation