Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

March 10, 2011

Can We Align Project Based Learning to Meet the Expectations of Standards and High Stakes Testing?

 #Edchat 03-08–2011 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Thank you to Terry Elliot (@tellio) for this week’s #edchat summary. I think you’ll agree that Terry has gone an extra mile with this post categorising the tweets and giving a very interesting overview of how the chat went. As ever the discussion was fast and furious with lots of ideas, experiences and reservations shared. Thank you Terry. See Terry’s bio at the end of the post.

This is not the first time we have discussed Project Based Learning on #edchat. Nor is it the first time we have addressed the issue of assessment and all that that entails. The ‘old chestnut’ of standardised testing loomed large in the discussion as did the issue of accountability and how this is best measured to ensure a satisfactory outcome for all stakeholders, not just the purse-string holders. Most edchatters have long felt and continue to feel that the current system fails to provide the best deal for learners, teachers and  the adult world of the future that our students today will inhabit. Many educators are striving to understand what the goals of education actually are today and why we hang on to outdated methods, policies and strategies which only seem to push us ever backwards. PBL offers something creative, more flexible and more akin to the way the world operates today. Those teachers who have explored it had nothing but praise and those who hadn’t been given the chance were eager to try it. Is PBL the answer to 21st century assessment? Who knows, but the old ways certainly aren’t and until we try and test new ideas and concepts we will dig ourselves ever deeper into an old, outdated and frankly failing methodology! (Berni)

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion:

  •  Making Project Based Learning (PBL) fit core standards and high stakes testing (HST) or vice versa.
  • Political realities of adopting PBL
  • The “real world” and PBL
  • The paradox of PBL– contrary to HST or only seemingly contrary.
  • The locus of control in PBL

 Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

 With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

@CTuckerEnglish  One size fits all doesn’t work for edu, but we are still required to test students using this method. How valuable can results be? #edchat

@rliberni   RT @stumpteacher: It is all in the design. If PBL is designed properly it can align with standards. #edchat

@TonyEdTechTip   I think PBL is great when it is authentic and individual to what the child wants and needs this is opp of a standards based approach #edchat

@stumpteacher   Tests are the destination in most places. PBL is just one of many potential routes to get there. #edchat

@CTuckerEnglish   To effectively shift paradigm to move students from receivers of info to generators of info, PBL makes most sense. #edchat

@amyphs   RT @tomwhitby: We’re told to differentiate instruction for differentiated learning yet the assessments of that learning are all standardized tests. #Edchat

@MertonTech  PBL means that students need to take their specific talents and mold them to the task at hand. Testing doesn’t let the child adapt #edchat

@weisburghm many people would prefer an easy “wrong” answer to a more difficult “good” one #edchat imho

@cfanch   PBL when done correctly is a process not an end product. It includes testing and other forms of assessment. Inquiry is the key. #edchat

@MertonTech   Process is: Ed preps students to prep themselves for a job that supports their life. Test isn’t the end goal, never has been #edchat

@cfanch @Mellohmars (1) Look around you-projects are everywhere. That salt shaker – why are the holes that diameter? (2) You WILL work hard. #edchat

@ChrisVacek  Most admin tasks are already PBL tasks, they just don’t know it; show admins this, and they may support PBL in classrooms. #edchat

@QZLPatriotHawk  Students reported back to my calc. tcher that the ?s on the ACT they took didn’t relate back to PBL that they were doing. #edchat

@anderscj  2 align PBL with standards u 1st have 2 stop asking what activity meets this standard & ask what standards were met by that project #edchat

@anderscj   Flip the alignment process. Do alignment as a kind of checklist. Otherwise, PBL becomes just another form of prescriptive teaching.

@QZLPatriotHawk  @slaleman How about a charter college too with different entrance exams #edchat

@anderscj  Biggest mistake teachers make when trying to use PBL is planning the project. Kids need to own that process. #edchat

@mssanderson_ITS    RT @stumpteacher: In my experience too many teacher focus on the “P” rather than the “L” in PBL. #edchat Learning must be focus.

@leahmacvie @erinneo It kind of makes me wonder- should there be two parts to school- one for PBL/creativity/innovation and one for need-to-know?#edchat

@MertonTech @erinneo Creativity can totally be assessed, just not quantitatively. #edchat

@JoAnnJ68   RT @ericjuli: @erinneo The anti pbl camp wants to make this an either/or discussion. PBL done right is about balance #edchat

@after_school  PBL done right shouldn’t depend on teachers or school day alone; build the team to include community, artists, techies etc. #edchat

@QZLPatriotHawk  Hard to digest PBL at times as a parent of a 2nd grader “wht did u do today?” not given traditional response #edchat

@cybraryman1  @QZLPatriotHawk Yes, I would have PBL workshop for parents where they have a project to do. #edchat

@weisblatt  RT @cybraryman1: PBL: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” …bore me and I’ll tune you out. #edchat

@weisburghm  we stick teachers in class with too many students, restrictive curriculum, and a bad measurement system, & blame them for the result #edchat

An interesting exchange:

@leahmacvie    RT @cybraryman1: I worry that we are not really preparing our students for the real world. #edchat
@QZLPatriotHawk  @cybraryman1 what real world do u refer to…college, jobs, family, citizenship? #edchat
@erinneo        @cybraryman1 @rliberni I hold fast to the belief that schools ARE the real world. My world, yours and the students. 7 hrs/24 #edchat
@slaleman       this highlights need 4 doing away w 1 size fits allRT @ghewgley:The prblm is, What’s the Real World? college, blue coll, trade schl #edchat
@cybraryman1  @sedayyildirim It has to start in the classroom. I taught my students survival skills in the real world #edchat
@ghewgley   To me, PBL is more like real life (practicing). You practice skills, learn, and show what you know. Tests are the actual game-time. #edchat

A humorous and enlightening exchange:

@ericjuli    If I want to learn to drive a standard transmission-Should I read the book, get tested, or do I want to practice driving the car? #edchat
@fliegs   @ericjuli remind me not to lend you my car 🙂 #edchat

@bhsprincipal  RT @ericjuli: If I want to learn to drive a standard transmission-Should I read book, get tested, or practice driving the car? #edchat

@rliberni    RT @fliegs: @ericjuli remind me not to lend you my car 🙂 Lol! #edchat
@ericjuli    @erinneo I don’t think it’s always either/or. By blended is better than book only #edchat

An exchange on the issue of control:

@QZLPatriotHawk    PBL is tough for many because it means to be effective you have to give up control. educators hv hard time w/that #edchat
@erinneo     @QZLPatriotHawk Or the appearance of control. #edchat
@rliberni        RT @QZLPatriotHawk: @cybraryman1 some admin. have a hard time watching classrms that dont appear to be in control too #edchat
@tebotweets    RT @CTuckerEnglish: True! Teacher becomes facilitator instead of source of all knowledge RT @QZLPatriotHawk: PBL means you have to give up control. #edchat
@QZLPatriotHawk   @cybraryman1 some admin. have a hard time watching classrms that dont appear to be in control too #edchat
@leahmacvie      @QZLPatriotHawk Oh do they- some teachers just love being a sage on the stage. LET IT GO!!! Collaborate vs. dictate. #edchat
@rliberni   @QZLPatriotHawk good teachers have control even when things may look out of control #edchat
@QZLPatriotHawk   @rliberni that is why I used the word “appear”. Control is a mater of interpretation. Confident tcher don’t have to control #edchat

Question of the day:

@vickicobb   Why is it that the people who need to see these ideas are never present?

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:

Can we open up our schools to innovation without disrupting them or is the time past for worrying about that?


To follow the complete discussion see here 


For the stats on #edchat participation see here 


As ever, there were some great links shared:

The Big Lies (Part Three):  http://bit.ly/gnk9Gq

@Stumpman PBL examples:  http://bit.ly/fJPmpe

The Twitter Academy:  http://tinyurl.com/45exgdx

An example of real PBL. Unplanned & interest-driven:  http://is.gd/KDID0h

@Weisburghm’s Bookmarks for pbl: http://bit.ly/fLgj3v

Classic use of PBL, standards,action research–Brian Crosby: http://tedxdenvered.com/blog/2010/07/14/presenter-brian-crosby/

Akron Inventors School: http://bit.ly/g8phO7

Great Video – Project Based Learning Explained: http://ow.ly/4acUR 

@cybraryman1  My Project Based Learning page: http://t.co/TgwFMEI

@ericjuli “Pathways to Prosperity” http://bit.ly/evMVs2  (great read on readiness and college)

Terry Elliott has been a composition and literature instructor at Western Kentucky University for the last six years.  Before that for ten years he taught Senior English (portfolio), Arts and Humanities (eighth and juniors), Drama, Media Studies, and Tech Leadership at Hart County High School, a rural school near Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.  I was a tech coordinator there and am a tech liaison for the Western Kentucky University Writing Project.  I am the webmaster for the Kentucky Writing Project and have been immersed in providing tech PD statewide for Writing Project Fellows for the past four years.  I am married to Elaine Digges and we have three grown kids.  We operate a small sheep farm and have been homesteading here for the last thirty years.  And before you say it, yes, lambs are cute, but rams and ewes are–mostly– not.  Come help us shear in late May/early June and find out what sheep are really like.  I am currently in the Educational Leadership doctoral program at WKU where I am researching social capital in professional learning communities.

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4 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the kind words. #edchat is unique and brain prickly to boot. And we all need to jump out of our ruts. This is as good a way as I know to do that. Join up and share with us in the fun.

    Comment by Terry C Elliott — March 10, 2011 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Terry. I absolutely agree!

      Comment by rliberni — March 10, 2011 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

  2. […] quote is from a short video on PBL learning found on a blog post about PBL and Standards. The video explains why project based learning should be used in schools everywhere. The video […]

    Pingback by PBL & Standards | Teaching in the Twenty-First Century — March 10, 2011 @ 8:44 pm | Reply

  3. […] Form 12 pm to 1 pm every Tuesday chat members open up their various twitter clients and contribute to the discussion.  The following link is the transcript generated after the one hour talk:  http://edchat.pbworks.com/312011-+1800CET%2C+12PM+EST+-%C2%A0Can+we+align+Project+Based+Learning+to+meet+the+expectations The following is to a summary I provided for the group:  https://rliberni.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/can-we-align-project-based-learning-to-meet-the-expectation… […]

    Pingback by Hashtag Chat Behavior: A Participant/Observer Project | Writing Across the Disciplines: English 300 Research — April 20, 2011 @ 12:54 pm | Reply


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