Blog Archives

Summer Reading Thoughts: Reinventing Project-Based Learning

I’m about half-way through Reinventing Project Based Learning by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss. I’m not sure how I feel about it. The book is clearly well written, it’s probably more practical than most, and has some interesting interviews with teachers. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes & reactions so far:

“Teach Less, Learn More.”

-The Motto of the Ministry of Education in Singapore

Why don’t we follow proven educational leaders like Singapore and Finland?

“I’ll never go back….to the way I used to teach.”

This seems like a very persuasive argument in favor of investing in PBL. Modeling instruction in physics is similar – of all the teachers who learn/try modeling very few ever return to traditional instruction.

“Both teacher and students had to navigate news ways of working together as a the project unfolded, but it didn’t hurt that students saw their teacher trying new approaches and taking risks as a learner.”

Why do teachers always have to be right? I think it’s good for students to occasionally see teachers fail.

For a “field book” it’s still a little too theoretical for my tastes. One example is when Boss & Krauss talk about the importance of maximizing opportunity while minimizing risk. This is a well known strategy in everything from making money in stocks, winning football games, and successfully choosing a career. The hard part is knowing how to do it. Reinventing Project-Based Learning falls flat here – there is no actual advice about how to maximize opportunity while simultaneously minimizing risk for PBL.

When I first started reflecting on what to write in this post, my thoughts were almost all positive. Reinventing Project-Based Learning is certainly interesting enough. However, when I tried to think of the specific things I learned from this book, I couldn’t come up with anything concrete. In my opinion, that’s damning. I hope the second half is more specific!

Problem Based Learning: A Manual?

As part of e21’s summer reading, I’d like to find a book about practically implementing project-based or problem based learning. Based on our trip to New Tech High, I’m already convinced that PBL could powerfully compliment what I currently do. The problem is that despite our trip to New Tech High, I don’t really know how to actually implement PBL.

I’d like to read a book containing specific instructions on implementing PBL. What are specific examples of PBL units? What are the purposes and methods of all the different components like the introductory paper, workshops etc. Perhaps most importantly, what are the common problems and practical solutions?

Anyone know of a book like this?

Thanks!