Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Ambitious PBL Plans

So I'm going to try and go full PBL this year in most of my classes.  I've dabbled with it before, and it's worked, but only as a "this is a one unit PBL" or even worse, a single project based on learning (which isn't PBL, but it's closer than not).

Math 8:

Students will be going through "lives" as adults with a specific income, job, spouse, family situation, etc.  They will be making various life choices all including math - choosing the best buys at a store, picking a cell phone plan, planning a party, designing a garden.  I've managed to put them entire BC curriculum into various projects.

Science 8:

Students will be creating a digital textbook of all the required learning outcomes this year.  They'll get given an outcome at the beginning of the week, and within (I think) about two weeks need to have a summary, definitions, a lab, some problems, diagrams, etc.  All the things that would go into a textbook section on that outcome.  I'll then have them create an ePub version with all their content (including video!) to show parents on iPad's and eReaders.

My biggest concern about both of these will be the "this is what is happening all year" type of approach - I'm not sure how students will respond to both having one "project" for the year, and having the freedom to work on their own or with groups, at their own pace (within reason) and without the daily grind of lecture->homework->submit->test.  Essentially, it will be new for everyone!

If anyone has done anything similar, I'd love to get in touch!


  1. Graeme,
    What a great idea! I did essentially the same thing with 7th and 8th graders my final years of teaching middle school math and we all loved it. It took getting used to at first, and I had to support the kids around making good choices early on but everyone thrived from this approach.

    Here is a post I wrote about one of the projects:

    Good Luck!

  2. I think you'll have to include something else in the digital textbook to make sure that the kids are actually doing science, rather than just learning some facts about science.

    What if the kids created experiments and tested them, to verify the facts they have learned during the year? They could then write lab reports about their experiment, and peer review each other's lab reports (just like regular scientists would do). These lab reports would be what got included in their textbook.

  3. Sorry - I should have been more clear - as part of the lab, question and diagram parts they have to create not only the material but also the answer - a finished lab report, questions answered, etc. I should make that more clear in my post, but thanks! It won't be all facts I can assure you :)