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Posted by on in Project Based Learning

Grant Wiggins defined feedback as, “information about how we are doing in our efforts to reach a goal.” A few specific examples he included were:

  • A friend tells me, "You know, when you put it that way and speak in that softer tone of voice, it makes me feel better."
  • A baseball coach tells me, "Each time you swung and missed, you raised your head as you swung so you didn't really have your eye on the ball. On the one you hit hard, you kept your head down and saw the ball."

For both examples, the recipient receives specific guidance in regards to what to do next…When we provide feedback during project based learning (PBL), or any type of learning, we should have this same goal in mind. Students should walk away with an idea of what their next steps will be (otherwise, what we’re giving probably doesn’t meet the definition of “feedback”).

John Hattie, who has synthesized over 1,000 meta-analyses related to student achievement, identifies feedback as among the most powerful influences on student success in the classroom. He says feedback, when goal-focused, has “twice the average effect of all other schooling effects.”

But, when and how do we make time for feedback during project based learning?

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Posted by on in Project Based Learning


How will my students and I know they are learning what they are supposed to learning? How will I assess this?

These are easily two of the more popular questions that emerge as educators make the shift to project based learning, and some form of a rubric (and its effective use) is usually a big part of the answer.

As I continue to analyze rubrics (or adaptations of rubrics) there are a few specific look-fors that help to immediately indicate whether the tool is spot on, or if some revisions are necessary. Here are five look-fors that suggest your rubric needs a makeover.

Problem #1: Your rubric closely resembles your project’s directions. 

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Posted by on in Project Based Learning

Admittedly, it took me longer than it should have to be able to make the distinction between professional development and training.

In short, I now view professional development as the process of building capacity in participants (or attempting to do so), while training generally follows more of a rigid approach with several “rights” and “wrongs.” Overall, I believe both have a place in education. For example, for about the past two years at my district’s elementary level there have been various forms of professional development involving Writing Workshop, but in January a representative from Heinemann is going to be training these same teachers on the new Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System.

At the same time, I have come to realize there is a third category, which can be triggered when we mistakenly believe we are providing deep professional development, but in actuality we are barely scratching the surface with not much more than conversations and examples related to a specific topic. This third category, which falls somewhere in between the other two on the “autonomy spectrum,” can be called discussion.

Since the line between discussion and professional development can easily be blurred, let’s take a look at how each of these categories applies to educators being introduced to essential questions, the topic that serves as the main focus of Chapter 5 in Hacking Project Based Learning.

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