Peer Review

The PBL is almost complete….the end is near. But what can be done to make sure the students can be guaranteed they will be turning in an acceptable, accurate (or close to accurate) assignment? PEER REVIEW!

Peer review, if used correctly, can help build analytical skills in students. Many teachers, including myself, say they have students complete a peer review; but really they are not. In general, teachers hand over a rubric and instruct the students to critique someone else’s work and give them a grade. Well, whats wrong with that? For one, neither student gets much out of that, and two, usually the person giving the critique will not give “their friend” a bad grade. So, they barely look over a peer’s work and give them a 100. I feel that if I instruct my students to review a peer’s work AND supply some constructive criticism along with it, that it will a ensure better outcome for each student. The student that is critiquing will, hopefully, supply useful points that the peer can take back and fix. In the long run, both are staying more engaged in the assignment (I hope this makes sense).

Another technique I would use is the group evaluation. This is where each member of the group gets to assess each other. I like this method because it would allow the teacher to see how the group feels as a whole about the process they just completed. Group evaluation is also a good way to check how the teacher observations match up with each members perceptions. These evaluations need to be made anonymously as to assure accurate input from each student. A teacher could utilize a locked ballot box to ensure no other student would see another student’s evaluation.

Post Project Reflection

This weeks blog entry for my Project Based Learning class is to think about how I plan to debrief after all is said and done. Believe it or not I had trouble with this blog entry. I think it that is mainly due to the fact that I am not currently in a classroom.

  • Who will you involve in the process?

I can most definitely say the my students will be involved since they are the ones that participated. I would like to also include the administration, but I believe that will be determined by the administration I will have at the time I implement this PBL. Eventually I would like to include an ad agency or some professionals in the advertising field to help make this a more authentic PBL.

  • What will your process look like?

Most of my debrief will be from my own reflections during this PBL. These reflections will include info from my observations during the PBL, the final articles that were submitted, and the feedback surveys completed by the students. I would like to conduct an open discussion with the students to get their verbal feedback because sometimes students will say more than they are willing to write down on paper. I would also love to have an administrator hear this conversation.

  • Is it just a one-time assessment?

No lesson has a one-time assessment. I believed all teachers constantly assess their lessons multiple times to change or at least reflect on the actual outcomes versus what was perceived at the beginning of the PBL.

Here is a link to my PBL Advertising for a Cause.

Managing the PBL Process

In managing a PBL environment, a teacher may encounter some negativity from other teachers, parents, and/or administration. A couple of criticisms I can think of at the moment are:

  1. Classroom environment appears to be too chaotic.
  2. What EXACTLY is being learned in this environment?
  3. Why is there a teacher if the teacher is not teaching? (Say that three times fast! lol)

Anytime there is group work going on in the classroom there APPEARS to be chaos, however it is usually organized chaos. To address number one, I would point out the skills the students are learning. Skills such as people skills, research skills, and collaboration skills. These skills are not easily taught in a teacher-centered lesson.

To address number two, I would point out my state and national standards; along with the skills I pointed out above. Then I would add the skill of time management, which is a highly important skill to have when taking the standardized testing required in many educational settings.

Finally, to address number three…..In life students will not always have someone there to tell them how to complete a job, but they will have mentors and people with seniority that will help them get on the correct path. PBL in the classroom begins this learning process. The process of working things out on their own first, gathering information along the way from the FACILITATOR aka the TEACHER.  PBL helps prepare students for “life” after high school. They will always have coworkers and bosses, but these people will not be their teachers. In PBL the teacher becomes the “coworker” that helps to mentor them when they get into a bind.

Click here to see my PBL!  Thanks, all feedback is appreciated.

The Importance of Scaffolding in a PBL

Scaffolding is very important when creating Project Based Learning (PBL). It helps to keep students focused and motivated. A teacher cannot present a PBL and then walk away and have the students work completely on their own. They have to constantly facilitate. Scaffolding allows for small instruction and facilitation. As a  facilitator, teachers may show (demonstrate) how to complete a task that will be done on that day.

In my PBL, I plan for small instruction and demonstrations daily. At the beginning there will be  more small instruction about what is needed to be in their projects. As we go along I will move to facilitator. I will need to demonstrate file conversion and how to begin editing a video/voice recording, just to name a few.

A teacher’s role is very minimal in a PBL. That is why scaffolding is so important and needs to be done correctly. Students tend to get bored or distracted easily, but with scaffolding this can be minimized as best as possible.

Project Based Learning….Driving Question

In my PBL class this week we focused on creating our driving question (DQ). What is a driving question? According to out textbook, a DQ “clearly states the purpose of the project. It gives a focus to all the tasks students do ” (pg 40). There are three characteristics of a DQ: 1. DQ is provocative or challenging; 2. open-ended and/or complex; 3. linked to the core of what you want students to learn. I feel like my DQ meets these criteria, however I am fearful it is not specific enough. Here is a link to my PBL lesson’s overview page which states my DQ and ten sub-questions.

Another item we created this week was our visual project organizer. We were able to choose an organizer we liked and begin setting up how we felt our project would look/happen. I chose to create a Padlet because it appeared to be the easiest in rearranging when or if needed. Right now, in the beginning stages I am not ready for make anything concrete.


Larmer, J., Ross, D., & Mergendoller, J. R. (2009). PBL starter kit: To-the-point advice, tools and tips for your first project in middle or high school. Novato, CA: Buck Institute for Education.

Project-Based Learning ….My Research

This week in my EdTech 542 class I have been researching ideas that I could possibly use for my own PBL. I have found this to be highly intimidating and have questioned my ability as a teacher more than once.

I have quickly realized that I am THAT teacher that likes to have the control, so when I execute my PBL that will be an issue. My textbook talked about those that are beginning need to attempt small time lengths for their new PBL to get a feel for it and to help transition the students as well. I also feel overwhelmed with all of the research and planning that goes into creating a PBL. I see the benefits of PBL and I would like to be able to eventually change my style of teaching to incorporate more PBLs, but I am also aware of my internal struggle. My hope, with the help of this course, is to become more willing to change!

In my findings this week I found some very exciting and what looked like fun PBLs.  There were two that seemed to speak to me, they were Public Service Advertising Campaign and Digital Storytelling. Both of these excited the creative part in me and can be adapted to work in any Business/Marketing class. I like how PBLs are recommended to have a relatable factor for the students involved. When I assign projects I always try to keep this in mind. I feel like the students would be more invested if they could actually see how the outcome would or could pertain to them. I believe I am leaning closer to the advertising campaign because I have a lesson on advertising that I could combine to help create my PBL. I need to tweak it so it is less teacher centered and more student centered. I really can not wait to see how all of this comes together!

What is PBL?

This week in my EdTech 542 class we learned about what is PBL or Project Based Learning and concerns surround a PBL environment. We had to choose one set of discussion questions to answer and then respond back to three other classmates. I chose to answer the Group 2 set of questions.  Here is my response:

  • Describe qualities of a successful project.  In my opinion, successful project qualities are student engagement, students asking questions of each other, and their overall grades. When students are engaged in a project they lose time, they forget they are in a classroom, and they are open minded to what may come at the end of the project. Engagement leads to the students asking questions and WANTING to find the answers; and I am referring to the questions not asked being asked by the teacher. Then finally, the overall grade. Students that are engaged and ask questions typically perform better on the tasks that are graded.

  • What issues must a teacher consider that are specific to PBL instructional strategies? One of the most apparent issues is placement of students. There are many factors that need to be considered such as, the student’s learning ability, and does the student have a take charge personality or more of a follower. Then the teacher has to take in to account if the students will get along at all or TOO well. Knowing their students is imperative for a teacher before they implement a PBL environment. 
  • What types of students will be successful in PBL environments? All types of students can be successful in a PBL environment. It is a matter of placement. Students thrive when they do not feel intimidated. However, the teachers have a big issue if they place very strong students with some that are not as strong. Depending on the type of roles the teachers want the students to take on in the group, will ultimately determine the success of the student.

I feel it is highly important to keep the students’ personalities and abilities in mind when trying to implement a PBL. Other considerations are what outcomes are you, the teacher, seeking; what is the purpose of incorporating the PBL. Many factors are in play when determining the success of PBL, remembering the students, to me,  is the most important.