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PBL or Constructivist lesson development for a blended environment

PBL or Constructivist lesson development for a blended environment

Author: Katie Hou

In this lesson students will learn how to adapt a lesson for a blended environment steeped in the tenets of PBL or Constructivism

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Hello. Thank you for joining me today to talk about PBL or constructivist lesson development for blended environment. The essential question we're going to look at today is, how can I update a lesson plan focusing on PBL or constructivist learning theories for a blended classroom?

Before we get started, I want to go over some reminders for today. We'll be focusing on Marzano's lesson design question, what will I do to help students generate and test hypotheses about new knowledge? We'll talk more about that later.

Today's lesson is going to have a PBL focus, and the lesson objective is this. Eighth grade students are being exposed to Shakespearean language for the first time and must show mastery of understanding by creating a product to help others access Shakespeare. Let's quickly review what PBL and constructivism are.

If you'll remember, PBL is an extended process of inquiry in response to a question, problem, or challenge. It's rigorous. It's carefully planned and monitored. And the teacher acts as a facilitator. It also allows for student choice.

PBL is actually based off of constructivism. Constructivism is when the students learn by constructing or creating their own meaning. It's learner centered. It allows for student choice.

It's inquiry based, and the teacher acts as a facilitator. So you can see that these two have a lot in common. That's why we've grouped them together here.

Blended learning is when a traditional classroom is mixed with online learning. Sometimes this can be teacher driven as an example of face-to-face driver. And at the other extreme, we have student driven as in online driver where students take all of their quizzes online from home. There are many different degrees of blended learning environments. And we're to take a look at all of those today.

Looking more at Marzano's lesson design question of what will I do to help students generate and test hypotheses about new knowledge, we're going to look at the three different elements that make up this question. These are what the teacher is doing in the classroom to help the students learn. So we're going to look at how do I meet these three elements within PBL in a blended classroom?

We're going to start by looking at the face-to-face driver. Remember this is when the teacher leads the learning and defines the curriculum. The teacher also integrates technology into the classroom. This is where you might see BYOD or one-to-one PBL lesson plans.

In this case, the teacher leads a class in a dramatic reading of Shakespearean text. And the teacher is choosing online learning programs to enhance their understanding. And the students use technology to problem-solve the teacher's questions. So you can see here it's very teacher focused.

The next type of blended classroom we have is rotation. And the way we could see this lesson plan happening in a rotation classroom is that in the traditional classroom rotation the teacher and class are reading aloud and discussing the content as well as the language. In the online class rotation, students are researching Elizabethan era and linguistics because a rotation is when students have a schedule that requires them to move between an online course and their traditional course.

Then we have the flex classroom. This is when the online course provides the students with most of their instruction, but the students have access to a teacher at the traditional school for tutoring and support. So in this situation, the students are taking an online course on Shakespeare and Shakespearean language. But the teacher at the traditional school is used as a resource as needed.

Then we have online lab. And online lab is where the student takes all of their classes in an online lab, but the lab is set in a traditional school. So in this case, students are taking all of the courses including one about Shakespeare in an online lab. And the students take these courses at a lab at a traditional school.

Self-blend is when the students have learning that takes place in the traditional classroom, but they supplement their learning with online courses of their choosing. So in this case, our students are learning in the traditional classroom about Shakespeare. But they have chosen an online class to supplement their learning. Maybe it's one over the Elizabethan era. Maybe it's one over linguistics.

And the online driver is the exact opposite of the face-to-face driver where the teacher leads the learning. This is where the student leads the learning. And they choose their classes, and they take their courses at home sometimes. And they're all online, but they do have the option to have a face-to-face to check-in with a teacher at the traditional school. In this case, the students are taking their Shakespeare class online and from home, but they still have that chance to check in with the live teacher to get support.

We want to look at the different pedagogical strategies that we can use here. We definitely see in this case that we're going to have strong engagement, relevant and authentic learning, collaboration and communication, voice and choice, construction of new meaning, transfer, high order thinking skills, inquiry, and varied perspectives, as well as reflection. So in terms of these pedagogical strategies, for construction and transfer, this is taking place in all of them. For the higher order thinking skills of understanding, analyzing, evaluating, and synthesis, this is also taking place in all of the classrooms. And for inquiry, that's also happening everywhere.

Some of them aren't so clear like voice and choice. In a face-to-face driver classroom, the student isn't going to have as much voice and choice as they would in say an online driver classroom. For the varied perspectives, that's another area of concern because you might possibly have varied perspectives through all. But some styles that require face-to-face such as face-to-face driver or a flex setting might be better suited for this sort of learning.

So as you can see, the pedagogical strategies will occur in most of the classrooms. You're going to have strong engagement, especially wherever there's voice and choice for the students. Now we're going to reflect. What type of blended learning do you think is best suited for PBL, and why? What pedagogical strategy do you think you could implement the most effectively, and why?

Let's review our essential question for today. How can I update a lesson plan focusing on PBL or constructivist learning theory for a blended classroom? Well, there's six types of blended classrooms, and we went over six different ways to do it. We also reviewed all of the pedagogical strategy and how they relate to Marzano's learning question so that we can see that all of the pedagogical strategies and all of the goals of Marzano are possible in the various different types of blended learning classroom.

To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thank you for joining me, and happy teaching.

Notes on “PBL or Constructivist Lesson Development For a Blended Environment”


(00:00-00:40) Introduction

(00:41-01:45) PBL, Constructivism, and Blended Learning Recap

(01:46-02:09) Marzano’s Lesson Design Question

(02:10-04:33) Blended Learning Reflection Examples

(04:34-05:48) Pedagogical Strategies

(05:49-06:10 ) Reflection

(06:11-06:54) Conclusion

Additional Resources

The PBL Superhighway... Over 45 Links to Great Project Based Learning

This post from Michael Gorman's blog, 21st Century Educational Technology and Learning, provides many useful links. In particular, The Learning Review is a link to fabulous Project Based Learning ideas, lesson plans, examples, and templates.