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002 Anatomy of SFPBL

Anatomy of Standards Focused PBL

In the previous module, we looked at what is PBL: Defined, Described, and Purpose. In this section reviewing examples is important for analyzing models that a teacher can use for their own quality planning. The word Project is viewed in many ways as we've seen thus far. For example, traditional projects occur after the teaching and learning is done. The project becomes a performance task or culminating activity where students demonstrate what they know. A distinction here is that we're planning Standards Focused Project Based Learning where the project encompasses the Unit or Mini Unit. Students still do a culminating experience, but they are deep in the process from the unit's first lesson. Learning and assessment of learning is interwined.


Action Steps:

  1. Register an account with the PBL-Online Collaboratory and Project Library.
  2. Explore the provided links of Standards Focused PBL. See the possibilities, reality in action of how students are engaged in substantive learning based on clear standards.
  3. Comment in the Reflection section for this module. Use one of the provided prompts.


Account Set up



Before you begin previewing...

Prior to planning your project, you may want to take a look at your teaching style and classroom environment. There are three ‘conditions’ that are necessary for successful Project Based Learning:

  1. A strong teacher-student relationship. PBL works best when you have established a positive, communicative relationship with your students. PBL is a community-oriented, relationship-driven style of teaching and learning. If you enjoy working closely with students, you will enjoy Project Based Learning.
  2. An atmosphere that emphasizes rigor and accountability: If you have set high standards for your students—and they know what is expected of them—they will perform much more successfully in projects. Project Based Learning requires that students take responsibility for their own learning. The more they understand the importance of solid learning and being accountable for results, the more they will be self-directed and high-performing.
  3. An opportunity for student involvement . Project Based Learning does not require that your classroom be ‘student-centered.’ However, it does require process-oriented instruction. That is, you are in a constant dialogue with your students about what they are learning and what is important to them. Respectful listening and good communication will improve the quality of your projects.


Review the specific sections associated with classroom environment, student capabilities, and teaching styles in the Introduction to PBL by BIE at: http://www.bie.org/pbl/pblhandbook/intro.php#classroom


Search for Projects

Taking a look at some of the sites, the ideas may not fit your classroom exactly, but chances are they can be adapted and modified to meet your needs. As you become more proficient at developing project ideas, you will not spend as much time searching for those "just right" online sites. If you find other good sources in your travels, just send me the URL and I'll add them to the list.  


Here are some questions to consider when previewing these online project lists, and while thinking about your project idea:

  • What do you want to accomplish through your PBL unit?
  • What do your students need to learn?
  • Envision your project at the end, what will your students know and what will they be able to do?


Some questions you may want to ask yourself as you begin planning:

  • What do your students know at the present and what is important for them to learn next?
  • What skills would benefit them most at the moment?
  • Are they ready to take on a project?
  • Can they manage themselves?
  • Has your class developed a sense of shared values and standards that will provide them the foundation for a good project?
  • Are you and your students operating as a learning community?


Explore these Online PBL Libraries


Module Reflection

Answer one of the following questions in Reflection 002

  • Describe how a project you found helped your understanding of how Standards Focused PBL is productively different than traditional units.
  • What important "ah ha's" did you have from previewing these PBL sites?
  • Explain how a concern you may have about doing PBL was addressed by previewing the project based learning sites.

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