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2 Tutorials that teach PBL or Constructivist lesson development for a 1:1 or BYOD environment
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PBL or Constructivist lesson development for a 1:1 or BYOD environment

PBL or Constructivist lesson development for a 1:1 or BYOD environment

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson students will learn the components necessary to create lessons using 1:1 Learning Models that are based on the constructivist theory and/or Problem based learning.

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Welcome to a tutorial on PBL or Constructivist Lesson Development for a 1:1 or BYOD environment. In today's tutorial, we will discuss the following question, how can I update a lesson for a 1:1 or BYOD learning environment to include constructivist or PBIL theories?

So let's start with a reminder of what PBL and constructivist learning are. PBL teaching and learning, according to Buck Institute in 2010, includes students going through an extended process of learning in response to a complex question, problem, or challenge. In this type of teaching and learning the students have a voice. They have choices in their learning. Projects are carefully planned and they're carefully managed and assessed. Students learn about key academic content and they practice 21st century skills, like communication and collaboration. They create a high quality, authentic product and presentation for each lesson.

Constructivist teaching and learning is when students construct and create their own meaning. Inquiry methods are used in constructivist teaching. Students are also given a voice and a choice in learning in this teaching strategy. The classroom is learner centered where the teacher is the facilitator not the director.

So let's talk about how we can use Marzano's ideas to develop this lesson example. And we will use Marzano's lesson design question, what will I do to help students generate and test hypotheses about new knowledge? This design question includes the elements 21 through 23, which are organizing students for cognitively complex tasks, engaging students in cognitively complex tasks involving hypothesis generation and testing, and providing resources and guidance. So we'll use these three elements specifically to develop a PBL or constructivist lesson plan for a 1:1 or a BYOD environment.

Let's take a look at a lesson that we can update. The lesson originally would be natural resources and waste reduction. And it's a lesson where students will learn about natural resources and their threats, like pollution, development, and over-consumption by reading various materials in text and on the Internet. Students will also watch videos on websites, like or We'll have class discussion time with guided questions on the topic as well. Students will research and write a report on ways to protect our natural environment and best use our natural resources. The report will be posted on a class blog.

This is a lesson that does include technology. And it is inquiry-based but it does not include elements of the PBL or constructivist theories. So let's update this lesson and include some PBL, or problem-based learning, methods.

We'll give our students the prompt natural systems and resources are being threatened by negative impacts of development, pollution, and over-consumption. What can you do to make a difference? We'll ask our students this question.

Make a plan and create a presentation to present in a community forum. In groups, students will research natural resources and their threats. Together, they will generate a plan of action to make a difference in one area, for example, their school, neighborhood, city, or home. Groups will create a multimedia presentation using Prezi. They will choose and define roles within the group. And presentations will be shared at a community forum where students will field questions from others in the community about their ideas and their plan.

So essentially, we're taking an inquiry-based lesson that does include technology and we're adding a problem-based learning theory to it. We're putting the learning in the students' hands and giving them voice and choice by giving them a prompt and a problem-- what can you do to make a difference with these ideas-- and they're able to guide their learning from there.

This lesson plan involves communication and collaboration opportunities as well as higher order thinking skills. We would either, in a 1:1 environment, make sure that all of our students had their iPads or laptops in the classroom to do all of their research and collaboration as a group, as well as make their presentation using Prezi with these tools in the classroom. Or, in a BYOD environment, our students would use the devices that they brought in during class time to do their research.

It's important to note that we would, as a teacher, need to think about adjusting the lesson based on how many resources or tools were available as far as the devices. We'd also need to make sure that students either had some time to work in a lab before or after class, or they had access to computers at home, so that they were able to do work from home.

Let's look at the elements of this lesson that make it a PBL lesson. In a PBL lesson, we want to make sure that there is strong student engagement. And in this lesson, there are some group work opportunities and the lesson is problem-based.

The tasks are relevant and authentic. The plan is based on their own lives and their community. They're able to choose an area of their own life to apply these ideas to. The students have choice in the solutions. They're able to generate their own solutions.

A PBL lesson must have collaboration and communication opportunities. And again, because of the group work, both of these are present. All members have a defined role or we will create a defined role. And they will present their plans to community members, which also allows for extended communication and collaboration opportunities.

Students must have a voice and choice. And because students are able to choose their plans and the elements, they do have voice and choice for this lesson.

Students must own their learning and construct new meaning. In this lesson, students are using given information. And they're asked to research it further.

Let's look at just a few more elements that make this lesson PBL based. Understanding needs to be transferred in order to solve new problems in a PBL lesson. And students do use past lessons-- maybe we talked about what natural resources are previously-- to guide their learning in this project.

Higher order thinking skills are needed. In this lesson, students must make connections and determine cause and effect. Students need to be engaged in inquiry throughout the lesson. And in this lesson, the process entirely is inquiry-based.

Varied perspectives need to be learned. In this lesson in particular, we will ask our students to use multiple sources. And they'll be asked to present and field questions of others.

Reflection on learning must be present to make this a PBL lesson. In order for their plan to be effective, their plan must be realistic. So this, in itself, allows our students to reflect on their ideas, making sure that this is a realistic and effective plan. Presenting and fielding questions of others in the community also allows for reflection on their learning.

Let's apply these ideas by reflecting on the question, can you think of a lesson you have used that can be updated to use PBL or constructivist learning ideas?

Let's review what we learned today. We discussed the question, how can I update a lesson for a 1:1 or BYOD learning environment to include constructivist or PBL theories?

We reviewed what PBL and constructivist theories look like. And remember, that constructivist learning is inquiry-based and requires the teacher to be the facilitator not the director. The students are given a chance to have voice and choice in their learning. And communication, collaboration and active student engagement are all essential to this type of lesson. A PBL lesson has our students look at a specific problem and solve that problem using many of the same theories of constructivism.

Thanks for joining me today as we talked about updating a lesson for a 1:1 or BYOD learning environment to include constructivist or PBL theories. I hope you're able to use these ideas in your own classroom.

Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The Additional Resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. Each link includes a brief description, so you can easily target the resources you want.

Notes on "PBL or Constructivist lesson development for a 1:1 or BYOD environment"


(00:00- 00:20) Introduction/objectives

(00:21- 01:02) What is PBL?

(01:03- 01:23) What is Constructivist Based Learning?

(01:24- 02:02) Applying Marzano’s Design Questions

(02:03- 05:03) Example lesson to update

(05:04- 07:21) Applying PBL to example lesson

(07:22- 07:32) Reflection/application questions

(07:33- 08:44) Review 

Additional Resources

Integrating Technology and Problem-Based Learning

This article from the Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning focuses on professional development and implementation of problem based learning in a technology-rich learning environment.

50 Ways to Integrate Technology for PBL and Student Projects

Through the use of links, this post on the Discovery Education blog includes useful advice and resources for teachers who want to implement technology-rich PBL in their classrooms. In particular, the first link (PBL Checklists) is a terrific planning tool for integrating PBL into your instructional design.