Formulating a good driving question is rather difficult and challenging. At the Buck Institute for Education they suggest using a fun hands-on "Tubric" - a rubric in the form of a tube:
The Right Question
I just came across The Right Question Institute, where you can learn how to develop the skill of asking good questions with your students. They offer very detailed step by step guides on how to introduce questioning to students and how to help them bring better decisions.
Several years ago when I started exploring project-based learning I came across three different approaches to 21st century learning:
- Project-based learning - students come up with a project (oral, written, multimedia or visual). The project may or may not be problem-based or inquiry-based.
- Problem-based learning - students investigate an authentic problem and come up with a solution.
- Inquiry-based learning - students are actively involved in constructing in-depth knowledge and asking further questions.
"All these approaches focus on developing problem-solving, critical thinking and information-processing skills. They closely relate to each other and often they overlap", I wrote in an eTwinning learning event.
When I started this course, however, I reflected on the above-mentioned thoughts and explored those different approaches even further. I came across an interesting article by John Larmer from the Buck Institute for Education about the differences and similiarities between them.
Interestingly enough, there's a number of different types of ______-based learning, such as Design-based learning, Location-based learning, Game-based learning, .... even Zombie-based learning. The author claims that the term "project learning" derives from the work of John Dewey and dates back to William Kilpatrick, who first used the term in 1918. Project-based learning is seen as a broad category or a "big tent" whereas all the other approaches are modern versions of the same concept.
Here are two graphics with differences and similarities between Problem-based and Project-based learning from the article:
The author concludes: "What type of PBL you decide to call your, er . . . extended learning experience just depends on how you frame it. The bottom line is the same: both PBLs can powerfully engage and effectively teach your students!"
This is the photo I uploaded on the Collaboration Padlet. It was taken in a professional development workshop that I co-led recently. There were teachers from different European countries who had just met the day before and for this activity they were asked to do the Marshmellow Challenge. It was amazing how successfully they worked together against the clock and how respectful they were of each others’ ideas and suggestions.
I'm a collaborator. I function so much better in a team - be it just with one person or with a whole bunch of people - it doesn't matter. I feel better as part of a team. Working alone makes me feel unhappy and ill-at ease. Maybe it's because I'm self-conscious and I need someone to encourage me and tell me that everything will be alright. It works both ways - I also need someone who I can encourage and support.
Working in a team for me means unfolding creativity. Brainstorming, coming up with new ideas, discussing issues, finding answers, solving problems, creating solutions, reaching important decisions or inventing and creating new products - it all runs smoothly when I'm collaborating with my team members.
I've been on Twitter since 2009. I signed up because I wanted to see what Ashton Kutcher tweeted about so I followed him. I'm still following him, but he has never followed me back. But so many educators have! Twitter has been a game changer for me! A whole new world opened up for me on Twitter - the world of my PLN - Personal learning network. I have connected with like-minded teachers, started different projects, shared experiences, ideas, thoughts! Twitter is for me the best place to develop professionally. Twitter connected me with Bart Verswijvel in 2010.
Bart is one of my key collaborators. We have been working together ever since 2010, first with students, then as teacher trainers for teachers all over the world. Together we have designed, developed, moderated and led lots of professional development workshops, keynotes, conferences, learning events, studentsmeets, teachmeeets, global webinars and even a brown bag lunch. In 2013 we started #etwion, the first eTwinning twitter marathon which lasted for 4 hours and during which I sent out so many tweets that Twitter temporarily banned me from tweeting! They thought I was spamming, while I was being fully immersed in an educational Twitter chat! Since then we have done a number of really successful and inspiring chats.
Tonight's #PBLcourse chat was also very inspiring. Stats say I sent out 67 tweets in an hour, and this is just a drop in the ocean of other tweets - more than 1,500 tweets by 250 participants. Absolutely amazing! Here's the transcript!
K. O. Kane & J. Y. Harms: A Guide To Collaboration In The Classroom
Dr. Kathleen O. Kane and Dr. Joan Y. Harms from the University of Hawaii outline the key characteristics of a collaborative approach to learning as compared to a traditional approach:
- Students rather than only teachers have increased control over learning.
- Responsibility for learning is more teachers are facilitators
- Students work cooperatively rather than competitively
- Students master knowledge through constructing content rather than through memorizing content
- Students help set their own goals and means of assessment
- Teachers and student jointly construct knowledge
A collaborative approach to learning can be described on a continuum from learners as receivers of information to learners as constructors of knowledge; and, teachers as disseminators of knowledge to teachers as contributors to knowledge along with students. The authors point out the importance of setting up a series of ground rules which state clearly what is expected in terms of behavior within the group and which sets the tone for all future interactions:
- Respect others
- Listen to understand and avoid interrupting others
- Listen to understand and avoid interrupting others
- Resist the temptation to put words into another person’s mouth
- Be clear and concise
- Avoid side conversations while someone else has the ﬂoor
- Maintain an open and positive attitude
- Be open and non-defensive about your own ideas
- Switch seats during breaks
- Everyone needs to participate
M. Clifford: Facilitating Collaborative Learning: 20 Things You Need To Know From the Pros
In the article Facilitating Collaborative Learning: 20 Things You Need To Know From the Pros, Miriam Clifford, states that collaborative learning teams attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer times than students working individually. Clifford mentions 20 ways to include best practices for collaborative learning in our classroom:
- establish group goals
- keep group midsized
- establish flexible group norms
- build trust and promote open communication
- for larger tasks, create group roles
- create a pre-test and a post-test
- consider the learning process itself as part of assessment
- consider different strategies
- allow groups to reduce anxiety
- establish group interactions
- use real-world problems
- focus on enhancing problem-solving and critical thinking skills
- keep in mind the diversity of groups
- groups with an equal number of boys and girls are best
- use scaffolding
- include different types of learning scenarios
- technology makes collaborative learning easier
- keep in mind the critics
- be wary of "group thinks" - change up groups
- value diversity
The Basic Collaborative Learning Techniques
Challenges and conflicts
The authors of What is the Collaborative Classroom? point out that when we move from traditional to collaborative instruction, several important issues are likely to arise:
1) Classroom Control - Collaborative classrooms tend to be noisier than traditional classrooms. Some teachers believe that noisy classrooms indicate lack of discipline or teacher control. In such situations, they argue, students cannot learn. On the other hand, the authors believe, the noise in a smoothly running collaborative classroom indicates that active learning is going on. However, rules and standards must be stressed from the beginning. Noise is welcome, but chaos isn't.
2) Preparation Time for Collaborative Learning - Teachers may believe that new lesson plans must be formed for these classrooms. To a certain extent, this is correct. But many teachers have already created engaging units and activities that are easily implemented in a collaborative classroom. Teachers can also share their plans with each other. Indeed, if we expect students to collaborate, we should encourage teachers to do the same!
3) Individual Differences Among Students - Many collaborative teachers have expressed surprise when seemingly less-able students had insights and ideas that went way beyond what teachers expected. Further, if each student contributes something, the pool of collective knowledge will indeed be rich. Data suggest that high-achieving students gain much from their exposure to diverse experiences and also from peer tutoring. Shy students might feel more comfortable talking in small groups that share responsibility for learning.
4) Individual Responsibility for Learning - In collaborative classrooms, it is often difficult to assign individual grades. Some teachers give group grades, but many students and parents are uncomfortable with these. Ideally, assessment practices should be changed so that they are consistent with collaboration, with a new view of learning and with a thinking curriculum. For example, David Johnson and Roger Johnson, as well as Robert Slavin, advise making individuals responsible for subtasks in group work and then determining both group and individual grades.
5) Conflict of Values - Many teachers do not feel comfortable allowing students to initiate dialogue, determine topics, or explore perspectives other than the teacher's. In part this is because many teachers believe that their role is to transmit knowledge; in part it is because they are held accountable for teaching discrete skills. This problem requires leadership, support, and time to address. Examining one's assumptions honestly and forthrightly, in a supportive group, often spurs educators to change.
When it comes to the community engagement, I'm really pleased to say that we involve the local community in school life on a regular basis. In this photo, for example, you can see two IT experts from the Nikola Tesla Ericsson company who came to our schools to talk about ICT in their company and how our students can get ready for the world of work. There have been a dozen workshops this spring that this company organized for our students at our school as well as on their premises. We also regulary invite native speakers of English and other languages to talk about their countries and people. In May we organized a walk around the school for school alumni, neighbours and friends of our school, entitled Jane's walk. Here's the video about it:
I love tools. I love exploring new tools. I'm subscribed to several excellent websites where new tools are presented and I'm sharing the links here. One day I might curate my own collection with collaboration tools.
One of my favourite tools is Blendspace. It is a simple and user-friendly tool for creating e-books, presentations and visual stories. Students can collaborate and give feedback to their peers.
I don't remember who told me that I couldn't draw, but I do remember that it was a long time ago. It made a deep impact on me in that I simply accepted it as a sad truth and from then on I never dared to draw. If someone asked me to draw something I would immediately start apologizing ( right now I came to realize that it's the same with dancing - if someone asks me to dance, the first thing I say is that I'm a lousy dancer! - and this is so completely totally utterly wrong!) and refrain from drawing. But then, last year I attended a webinar with Sylvia Duckworth about sketchnoting - visual note-taking. She said was that everyone could sketchnote and she showed us her first sketchnotes when she started six (only 6!) months ago! What a huge difference there was between her beginnings and her mastery! And I gave it a try. I drew for hours on end in Adobe Draw and became better and better and here's one of my sketchnotes that I made: 10 reasons why join eTwinning. And it made me more confident and more daring to draw! So just ask me to draw something for you and I won't apologize. I'll do it with pleasure.
3.3 An Entrepreneurial Mindset
I strongly believe it is very important to develop an entrepreneurial mindset with our students. I think schools are still mainly traditional and educate young people to be employees, not entrepreneurs. That is the main reason why my PBL is focused on students as young entrepreneurs. They have to create a marketing campaign for their start-up.
There are some excellent resources on how to build an entrepreneurial mindset in this Thinglink created by Kornelia Lohynova:
To build an entrepreneurial mindset, we need to:
- Be persistent
- Have a strong need to achieve a personal accomplishment
- Be courageous and don't mind failure
- Think outside the box
- Be passionate
- Be creative and innovative
- Foster curiosity
- Be self-confident and self-reliant
- Be hardworking and a lifelong learner
- Have a positive attitude
Another great video on what is GRIT was shared by Grazia Paladino:
3.4 Webinar : Developing Entrepreneurial Skills
I am lucky to have had a chance to connect with Kornelia Lohynova several years ago. I attended her excellent learning event on Entrepreneurship and I learned a lot.
Design Thinking For Educators
I'm a member of the Teachers Guild, "a professional community that activates teachers’ creativity to solve the biggest challenges in education today. While learning and doing design thinking, teachers build their creative muscle and connect to diverse partner organizations who are committed to bringing their solutions to life. It’s an initiative run by a team of educators and designers from IDEO’s Design for Learning Studio and PLUSSED at Riverdale Country School. The Guild uses the Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit, and the mindsets of being human-centered, optimistic, collaborative, and experimental, to guide the problem solving process."
Download the Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit here:
Every Teacher Is A Designer
3.7 Apply for Next Week's Teachmeet
Of course I applied for the Teachmeet. I would never miss it. Bart and I designed and hosted our first in the series of incredibly successful online teachmeets back in 2011. 22 presenters from 6 continents shared their projects, ideas and experiences with a global audience who all gathered online to be part of this amazing event.
Examples of Formative Assessment
Summative assessment refers to the assessment of learning: students take an exam which measures the knowledge they gained over a particular period of time and for which students will be graded. Formative assessment, on the other hand, represents diagnostic testing which can be either formal or informal, i.e. students can but don't have to be graded for the learning activity. What matters is that both students and teachers receive valuable feedback. This enables them to keep track of student progress and to monitor student achievement. Feedback shows if students have mastered a concept or they still need to work on it. It also gives teachers an insight into their teaching and shows if they have to modify their activities.
Constant feedback on student performance is crucial for students to enhance their learning. By reflecting on their learning they become aware of their weaknesses and work harder for improvement. If students are assessed in this way, they will not be able to tell whether they are being taught or assessed. Learning will no longer be stressful, but enjoyable and fun. Good assessment tools help teachers to engage students in their learning. If learners are engaged, they become responsible for their learning. They become the owners of their learning and are encouraged to reflect upon their learning.
The West Virginia Department of Education has compiled a useful list of examples of formative assessment, such as observations, questioning, discussions, exit or admit slips (written responses to questons the teacher poses at the end or beginning of a lesson to assess student understanding of key concepts), learning logs (students' reflections on the material they are learning), response logs (students compose their thoughts about a concept), graphic organizers (e.g. mind maps, charts and diagrams), peer/self-assessment, practice presentations and many more.
- 3 things I learned today
- 2 things I found interesting
- 1 question I still have
Differences between formative and summative assessment
Maria Vasilopoulou has shared some great resources that helped me understand the differences between these two types of assessment.
In the figure below, the authors of the latter paper claim that assessment is only one part of the process, followed by evaluation and decision-making. The results of the assessment (pre-tests, examinations, observations, essays, self-reflections) are evaluated based on judgment of those data. The decision-making process refers to designing ways to improve the recognized weaknesses, gaps or deficiencies.
The authors suggest there are three types of assessment: diagnostic, formative and summative. I think diagnostic and formative are one and the same thing, but according to the authors, diagnostic assessment can help you identify your students’ current knowledge of a subject, their skill sets and capabilities, and to clarify misconceptions before teaching takes place. Here are the examples they give for each of these three types:
Types of Diagnostic Assessments
- Pre-tests(on content and abilities)
- Self-assessments (identifying skills and competencies)
- Discussion board responses (on content-specific prompts)
- Interviews (brief, private, 10-minute interview of each student)
Types of Formative Assessment
- Observations during in-class activities; of students non-verbal feedback during lecture
- Homework exercises as review for exams and class discussions
- Reflection journals that are reviewed periodically during the semester
- Question and answer sessions, both formal - planned and informal - spontaneous
- Conferences between the instructor and student at various points in the semester
- In-class activities where students informally present their results
- Student feedback collected by periodically answering specific questions about the instruction and their self-evaluation of performance and progress
Types of Summative Assessment
- Examinations (major, high-stakes exams)
- Final examination (a truly summative assessment)
- Term papers (drafts submitted throughout the semester would be a formative assessment)
- Projects (project phases submitted at various completion points could be formatively assessed)
- Portfolios (could also be assessed during it’s development as a formative assessment)
- Student evaluation of the course (teaching effectiveness)
- Instructor self-evaluation
4.3 Peer Assessment for PBL
There is a difference between peer grading and peer assessment. Peer grading means that students give each other grades. This can be risky because it may lead to negative attitudes towards assessment. Peer assessment on the other hand refers to giving feedback in order to improve student's work. Peer assessment is formative. More about peer assessment can be found in this excellent publication by Georgia Brook and Heidi Andrade.
The authors recommend that we can teach students to assess each other by using the Ladder of Feedback.
This is what the authors suggest: The Ladder of Feedback is a good tool to help promote effective peer feedback between students. It involves four steps. It is sometimes helpful to have one group member “police” the ladder to make sure the rungs are climbed in order. After a student shares a work-in-progress with peers, his peers will:
1. Ask clarifying questions they have about the work. Some ideas may seem unclear, or information may be missing. This step helps peers gather relevant information before they give feedback.
2. State what they value, or comment on the strengths of the work. Expressing appreciation for ideas is fundamental to the process of constructive feedback. Stressing the positive points of the work sets a supportive tone during the feedback session, and helps people to identify strengths in their work they might not have recognized otherwise.
3. Raise any concerns they may have about the work. During this step, honest thoughts and concerns are raised in a constructive, non-threatening way. “What I wonder about is . . .” and “Have you considered . . .” are examples of how concerns may be framed.
4. Make suggestions about how the work could be improved. Give suggestions, based on problems identi ed in the concerns step, that can help the student use the feedback to revise his work and make improvements. There is no guarantee the learner will use the suggestions, nor need there be a guarantee. Suggestions are just that—suggestions, not mandates.
4.4 Creating & Using Rubrics for PBL Assessment
When students are given assessment criteria in advance, they know exactly what is expected of them and how they can improve. They can clearly see what their weaknesses are and what they can do to successfully complete the task and to achieve the expected results. Rubrics provide students with the possibility for reflection and self- and peer assessment and at the same time they provide teachers with an objective method for assessing student performance.
Here is an excellent Online Tutorial for creating rubrics, which was made by the University of Colorado. The tutorial provides several examples of rubrics and a list of resources for further learning. The Tutorial gives insight into:
- -what rubrics are and how they can benefit you and your students,
- assessment concepts that relate to rubrics,
- how to create a rubric and
- how to judge the quality of the rubrics you create.
Here's the link to my rubric made with Rubistar. What is assessed are collaborative work skills.
4.6 Extra Webinar 5th July - Flip Your Students' Role in PBL with María Jesús García San Martín
María Jesús García San Martín is Head of the Online Teacher Training and Social Networks Department at the National Institute for Educational Technologies and Teacher Training (INTEF) in the Spanish Ministry of Education. The webinar was excellent with a lot of useful ideas and tips. Here 's María Jesús' Blog with a lot of great resources.
María Jesús was so kind to share the summary of her webinar: