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Student Choice and Collaboration in PBL

Student Choice and Collaboration in PBL

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will implement the PBL task/ unit you developed with a focus on personalization through student choice and collaboration

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In this tutorial, we'll learn how to incorporate student choice and collaboration in the project-based learning environment. We'll begin with a review of the three stages of Understanding by Design lesson design specifically in terms of a competency-based education and project-based learning environment. Then we'll examine some suggestions for implementing these lessons into the classroom. Let's get started.

Recall the three stages of lesson design as outlined in the Understanding by Design Model. In stage one, you identify the desired results. You will establish the learning goal, the understandings that will be developed throughout the lesson, any essential questions that you would like students to be able to answer, and the key knowledge and skills that students should take away from the lesson.

Stage two is to determine what evidence will be acceptable in demonstrating that students have mastered the desired skills. Both summative and formative assessments are developed in this stage, along with any rubrics that will be necessary to evaluate student performance on those assessments. And finally, stage three is to develop the specific learning plan that outlines the individual tasks and activities that will be used in order to help students gain the required knowledge.

Once you've completed the lesson design process, here are some suggestions for implementing the lesson with a focus on student choice and collaboration. Remember that in a personalized learning environment, students are working on their own unique learning paths that are tailored to their needs and interests. Whenever possible, provide students with multiple options for instruction. This might occur through the use of learning centers, online options, and teaming.

The redefined teacher role in a personalized learning environment emphasizes that the teacher serves as a facilitator and coach throughout this process. All of the choices offered to students need to be aligned with the objective that you identified during the planning process. And collaboration should be built into all of the choices, including the online options. You may wish to have a student participate in an online forum or write a blog post related to the activity that they've completed. In an environment that values authentic learning, these 21st century skills are definitely appropriate. If you use a teaming option, it's important to define the roles and expectations for all members before the activity begins, and to explain in advance how the outcome will be measured for this option.

All of the options should include authentic learning opportunities. If your online choice does not include an authentic learning opportunity, you can still offer it as an option that allows students to master the competencies. But for problem-based learning to truly occur, students must be presented with an authentic problem that allows them opportunities for critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. If you wish, you can include options that allow students to extend the learning beyond the classroom, embracing the idea of flexible, anytime, anywhere learning that is valued in the personalized learning environment. You may even wish to allow students to create their own options. Remind students that progression on their learning paths is based on mastery of the current skills, so they should choose the option that they feel best fits them, their interests, and their unique needs in order to help them progress along their path.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you implement your lesson. You may wish to record yourself as you implement the lesson if you have the ability to do so. Also remember that your role in PBL should shift to a coach or mentorship role. You should act as a facilitator in the PBL classroom.

In this tutorial we discussed how to implement a project-based learning lesson with a focus on student choice and collaboration. We reviewed the three stages of Understanding by Design lesson design in the context of a competency-based education and project-based learning environment. We then explored several suggestions for implementing this lesson with an emphasis on allowing students choices and providing opportunities for collaboration.

For more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, please view the Additional Resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The Additional Resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Student Choice and Collaboration in PBL"

(00:00 - 00:25) Introduction

(00:26 - 01:17) 3 Stages of UbD

(01:18 - 03:45) Suggestions for Lesson Implementation

(03:46 - 04:12) Review

(04:13 - 04:32) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

10 Steps to Encourage Student Voice and Choice

In this article, Barbara Bray explains why student choice and voice are critical to student engagement and achievement. In addition, she provides 10 steps to use student voice and choice to guide instruction and personalization in the classroom that are easy to apply in any learning environment.

SAGE: A Framework for Project-Based Learning

This video is one in a series on deeper learning. In this video, the SAGE framework for project based learning is explored. After watching the video, teachers are asked to consider one of their own lessons that - through the application of the SAGE framework - would result in deeper learning for students.