PBL Hacks

One of the challenges I have encountered in using PBL is realizing, once we are knee-deep in an activity, is helping students develop the interpersonal skills to work collaboratively on a problem-focused project. The impasse may be different for every group, so while I might model and coach students through using some skills, sometimes I realize too late what skills students need to build. Thus I really liked the emphasis in hack 2 on harnessing the dissonance and repeatedly emphasizing for students what effective collaboration looks like, sounds like, and feels like. I thought about creating a list (for my use) for each category so I can track what I am working on with students.

I also really liked hack 8, “Reserve the Right to Mini-Lesson.” By reflecting on a PBL with informal assessments of students’ progress through a project, mini-lessons are absolutely appropriate. When I was in the classroom, mini-lessons were sometimes difficult for me because I had difficulty compressing my teaching points and student practice into a small chunk of time. I’ve gotten much better at that in my current position (in fact, much of my teaching is a mini-lesson!) and I appreciated that the author emphasized that direct instruction can still have a place in a PBL model.