PBLWorks Announces its 2021 PBL Champions

Novato, CA (July 13, 2021) – PBLWorks, the leading provider of professional development for Project Based Learning (PBL), has announced its 2021 PBL Champions – a program that honors schools, districts and individuals for their commitment to high quality Project Based Learning. This year for the first time, the program includes two school district Champions, and a PBL Champion of the Decade. The 2021 PBL Champions are:

PBL Champion Districts

 Pearl City Waipahu Complex Area (Waipahu, Hawaii)…Read More

The College Board Partners with PBLWorks to Train Teachers for New AP Courses Rooted in Project Based Learning

PBLWorks, the leading provider of professional development for Project Based Learning (PBL), has partnered with the College Board to offer a new PBL-based professional development program for Advanced Placement (AP) courses in Environmental Science and U.S Government and Politics. The new courses use a Project Based Learning method of teaching and are based on powerful new breakthrough research just released by the Center for Economic and Social Research at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, that found PBL coupled with high-quality professional development significantly improves student performance when compared to students in non-PBL classrooms.

Specifically, the research demonstrated that high school students in AP classes who engaged in hands-on, inquiry-based projects with real-world applications performed higher than their peers on AP U.S. Government and Politics and AP Environmental Science exams. In year one of a randomized controlled trial in five U.S. cities they scored 8 percentage points higher, and in year two of the study they scored 10 percentage points higher – and they were more likely to earn a qualifying score of 3 or above which could increase their chance of receiving college credit and saving on tuition.

“We’ve seen the impact of PBL firsthand in our work with schools and now this research provides proof of its impact on students who are taking AP classes,” said Bob Lenz, CEO of PBLWorks, “That’s why we’ve partnered with the College Board to support new project-based AP courses that are relevant, authentic, and engaging.”…Read More

Registration is Now Open for the 10th annual PBL World Conference

PBLWorks, the leading provider of professional development for high-quality Project Based Learning (PBL), will host its 10th annual PBL World conference virtually on June 21-24, 2021 with the theme “Racial Equity at the Center.”

The conference, which last year drew more than 1,000 teachers and school and district leaders from 37 states and 26 countries, offers inspiring speakers, engaging workshops, and dedicated time for networking. PBLWorks is presenting the conference online for the second year in a row in order to support teachers and administrators who can’t travel or who prefer to attend virtually due to the pandemic.

This year’s theme “Racial Equity at the Center” highlights the power of Project Based Learning to advance educational equity for all students — especially Black and Brown students. Keynoters will bring their perspectives on how participants can put equity at the center of their work. And during workshops, attendees will consider educational equity in their classrooms and their projects.…Read More

PBLWorks Expands its Online Services for 2021

PBLWorks, the leading provider of professional development for high-quality Project Based Learning (PBL), is expanding its selection of online offerings for teachers seeking to start or accelerate their use of Project Based Learning. Options include immersive 3-day workshops, 8-week courses, and 2-week “pop-up-projects” to do with your students. All are offered online and are easily accessible for teachers who can’t attend in-person because of their location, schedule or restrictions due to the pandemic.

The power of Project Based Learning is its ability to engage and inspire students, and now more than ever due to the pandemic, teachers are challenged to keep their students connected and engaged in their learning. PBLWorks is supporting educators by creating more opportunities to meet their needs for PBL professional development, especially those who are getting started on their own.

“We experienced extremely positive feedback this year for our online workshops and courses, with participants overwhelmingly saying they would recommend them to a colleague,” said Bob Lenz, CEO of PBLWorks. “By offering more online options in 2021, we’ll be able to help even more teachers implement Gold Standard PBL with their students, inside or outside of the classroom.”…Read More

PBLWorks and ISTE Partner to Offer New Course for Teachers

PBLWorks, the leading provider of professional development for high-quality Project Based Learning (PBL), has partnered with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to create a new self-paced ISTE U course, “Leading Project-Based Learning with Technology” to help teachers build their capacity to implement Gold Standard PBL with technology tools.

The course is for teachers and instructional staff who are familiar with technology and are looking for an entry point into PBL, or those who are interested in learning more about both PBL and technology integration. It challenges participants to respond to the driving question, “How can I maximize the benefits of Project-Based Learning by effectively integrating digital tools?”

“Leading Project-Based Learning with Technology” is a 5-hour, self-paced course. It costs $49 for ISTE members and $65 for non-members.…Read More

Interactive Online Tool that Gives Teachers a Shortcut to Creating Quality Project Based Learning Units

PBLWorks, the leader in professional development for high-quality Project Based Learning (PBL), has created a first-of-its kind PBL Project Designer to help teachers plan standards-based PBL units for students. Teachers can build PBL projects from scratch or easily adapt one of 72 Gold Standard PBL units for their students and context.

The Project Designer walks teachers through each step of designing a project, providing tips for creating or adapting projects, instructional ideas, links to project resources, and modifications for online learning. Once complete, projects can be downloaded, printed, and immediately implemented with students.

“Project Based Learning is an incredible way to engage students and promote deeper learning and we want to provide as much support as we can to help teachers do it well, whether they are teaching in classrooms or remotely,” said PBLWorks CEO Bob Lenz. “The PBL Project Designer is a great resource for teachers – whether they’re experienced in PBL or just starting out – to help them confidently plan their next PBL unit.”…Read More

Bam! 5 tools for project-based learning

Educators know project-based learning (PBL) isn’t simply another teaching strategy. Project-based learning gives students deeper learning experiences, and as they apply their knowledge, they develop soft skills such as critical thinking and team work–skills they’ll carry through to college and the workforce.

But it’s often a great undertaking to locate and vet resources and tools for project-based learning, and educators don’t have an abundance of time.

Read more: Defining high-quality project-based learning…Read More

How our district connects learning to the real world

Efforts to equip students for college and career readiness are beginning earlier and earlier in the classroom. A 2015 Gallup poll of one million students in the U.S. found that only half reported feeling engaged in school, and one-fifth feel actively disengaged. These statistics show a disconcerting lapse among curriculum, students, and the reasoning behind why we teach what we teach.

Fortunately, many districts are making moves toward building connections in the classroom, showing students real-world applications of lesson plans. For my K-8 media arts and technology students, I focus on skills such as computational thinking to display how what they are learning now can help them in a future career. This skill can be applied to any subject, with the most important part being that we are exposing students to a variety of critical-thinking methods and showing the application across subjects and job industries.

By encouraging students to explore careers, we inspire and empower them to choose their own path. Bringing awareness to careers and showing how STEM plays a part across the spectrum is crucial to gaining and retaining student interest while teaching these lessons.…Read More

Defining high-quality project-based learning

A growing number of educators around the world believe that project-based learning (PBL) is an important instructional approach that allows students to master academic skills and content knowledge, develop skills necessary for future success, and build the personal agency needed to tackle life’s and the world’s challenges.

Many districts are either already using PBL or are on the verge of using this approach in classrooms. Educators can find a wealth of resources on how to plan for and get started with PBL, but until recently, there were far fewer resources on what the outcome of high-quality student experiences ought to look like. As we move toward more student-centered approaches, we needed a framework that is just that—centered on the students.

Therefore, a new Framework for High-Quality Project-Based Learning (HQPBL) was developed to help teachers better prepare young people to contribute in the innovation economy. The Framework was developed by more than 100 educators from around the world who already use PBL.…Read More

6 questions (and answers!) to ask before moving to PBL

Don’t jump into project-based learning (PBL) too quickly. But at some point you’ve got to just jump. Does that sound like conflicting advice? Let me explain.

Some teachers jump on the PBL bandwagon—and these days it’s a loud, expanding bandwagon—because they’ve read persuasive articles, seen cool videos, heard inspiring presentations, or been swept up by enthusiastic colleagues. To these folks I’d say, don’t try PBL until you’ve done a bit more reading, gotten some training, or planned your jump with colleagues.

Pulling off a successful project is not easy for most teachers new to the methodology, except for a few “naturals,” so launching your first one without proper preparation is risky. A project that fails epically might permanently scare off teachers and scar students, who would remember that time they wasted two weeks floundering in class, when their group let them down and they worked late putting together that embarrassing presentation or building that stupid diorama, but what did they really learn?…Read More

Putting the SEL into PBL

In project-based learning (PBL), teachers present students with a real-world problem and challenge them to solve the problem through research and inquiry, often collaborating with each another and producing a final product that encompasses everything they have learned. The project relates back to the standards and learning objectives teachers are covering, but in a more tangible way. Often, PBL will naturally integrate objectives from a variety of subjects within the same project.

The Buck Institute for Education outlines seven essential components for project-based learning:

  1. a strong student activator
  2. a driving question
  3. opportunities for student voice and choice
  4. 21st-century skills
  5. time for inquiry and innovation
  6. feedback and revision
  7. a publicly presented final product.

Learn more about these seven essentials here.…Read More

How we developed a personalized PBL model for STEM

How can schools and districts prepare students for college and careers in STEM? Is it by asking them to passively read a textbook or listen to a teacher lecture? Or is it by challenging them to actively engage in projects that attempt to solve real-world problems?

In Harmony Public Schools in Texas, we want students to become active learners, problem solvers, and STEM advocates. We want to increase their knowledge, skills, and interest in STEM, and balance student-centered teaching with state and national standards. To do this, we developed a personalized project based learning (PBL) model called STEM Students on the Stage (SOS)™.

STEM SOS, which was developed with a $30 million Race to the Top grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is a rigorous, interdisciplinary, standards-focused method of STEM education that encourages students to develop and share their STEM knowledge and investigations. We now incorporate this personalized PBL model into all of our STEM courses.…Read More