Hacking Project-Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom by Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy

Hack 9: Guarantee Understanding: Determine the Need for Summative Assessments

  • Ideally, your efforts using the previously mentioned Progress Assessment Tool will be all the assessment you need. In reality, most teachers and schools will need some form of summative assessment and the grades they generate. The authors advise to avoid such tests during projects and to allow retests so that all students have a chance at mastery. Try to avoid multiple-choice tests that just check for knowledge. Add an element of performance if you can such as essays. Keep your High Impact Targets in mind. If you have access to publisher-created tests, fight against using them.

Hack 10: Guarantee Understanding

  • Once a project is completed, it’s important that students reflect on their work and publish it to an audience beyond their teacher. Teachers must create conditions for students to make their work visible. Students can even make their work public during the project to get feedback. Students should consider what additional questions they have, identify their strengths, consider what they might do differently, and how their thinking has changed. The authors find that publishing work using blogs and social media encourages students to do their best.

Conclusion

  • Since students are working daily on projects, teachers have more time for face-to-face interactions with each student. This allows for building vital relationships. There is a big difference between teaching your curriculum and teaching students and projects help you do more of the later. While PBL may seem daunting, keep in mind that there are thousands of teachers around the world willing to share and help so reach out to find them and good luck. Thanks, Ross and Erin.

Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy

  • Ross is the Supervisor of Instructional Practice K-12 in the Salisbury Township School District in Allentown, PA. He was an elementary assistant principal and a fourth-grade teacher. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator and a Google Certified Innovator. He blogs at rosscoops31.com and can be reached via email at RossCoops31@gmail.com and at Twitter @RossCoops31.
  • Erin is the assistant principal of Eyer Middle School in the East Penn School District. She is a certified literacy specialist and coordinates the middle-level ELA department. She has taught from kindergarten through fifth grade. Her Twitter name is @MurphysMusings5.
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