PBL Process Wall

Posted: December 16, 2019

It’s obviously pretty important to have projects at a project-based learning school. I asked Lisa Wilderman to tell us a little about the process of developing and implementing a project at Odyssey Middle School. We focused on their current project—What’s in Our Water?

Our 7th-grade team is made up of Andrew, Joy, and me. We’re each responsible for our content areas and also to the mission of PBL. That means we work together to plan and implement projects.

The idea for this project actually started with a connection at last year’s Hometown Holiday when I met Rainy who coordinates the bioswale testing at our elementary schools. In talking, I mentioned that we have three bioswales on the PBL campus and wondered if our students could be included in the testing she coordinates.

Her resounding “YES!” was the jumping off point for this project idea. Most of the time we start out by thinking about the key learnings and end product possibilities. Student voice and choice is a big part of our projects and taken into consideration when planning.

For this particular project, we initially thought about a community art project and our CSD film festival as authentic opportunities for students to share their learning. Now, we have at least five ways students can share their learnings with our local community.

Once we have a vision for the culmination of the project, we start working on the learning students will have along the way. It’s quite a process. We use tools, like our project planning sheet, that help us go through all the components of a successful project – learning standards, success skills, collaboration skills, etc. We identify the key parts we want to assess both individually and in groups. Often times one content area might really align to the project, and the other content areas might play more of a supporting role. For this water project, science is the anchor, so Andrew has taken the lead in identifying the content standards, developing lessons and activities to educate students about watersheds, scheduling guest speakers, and setting up our launch – a local watershed hike. We’ve learned that the culminating part of the projects is really important and serves as an end goal, but the majority of the learning and assessment happens along the way of getting there.

As a team, it’s really important for us to be able to work together. With any project there needs to be room for adjustments and flexibility. With the three of us and the , a project takes, there’s a lot of collaboration that happens. It’s great for the students to see us working together and understand that it’s ok to not have everything figured out, we can pivot, we can adjust. It’s all about having a growth mindset. It’s pretty cool. An example of that is when I found a grant opportunity through a local Plant and Garden Club that, connected with our project. As our Humanities teacher, Joy took the lead on that and worked with interested students to write the grant. We’re still waiting to hear if we got the grant. That’s something we hadn’t planned in the beginning, but it was an authentic learning opportunity that came up so we went for it. It’s so much fun to see students excited about their learning.

Framework Links:Quote

3.2 Planning and preparing for the needs of all students

4.1 Attention to established content standards

6.1 Designing instruction aligned to assessment

6.2 Using multiple data elements

6.3 Tracking student progress

OMS MissionInterview Sample Questions – Plot

  • How do you decide and develop the learning activities?
  • What helps you pivot and adjust during a lesson?