Class 4: Mission-Driven PBL

This week class will meet at Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) to tour the exhibition and begin discussion of our project to serve as instructional design consultants creating lessons for visitors to the Oregon Holocaust Memorial.

With historical memorials in the news and neo-Nazis on the march, this community-based challenge will allow us to use a PBL approach to explore instructional design with purpose. More

Here’s a few links that can guide assist our work:

  • After Charlottesville: Public Memory and the Contested Meaning of Monuments (Facing History and Ourselves) is central and raises some interesting essential questions beginning with “What is the purpose of memorials and monuments? What impact do they have on us and the way we think about history?” Link
  • Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust (US Holocaust Memorial Museum) reflects approaches appropriate for effective teaching in general, are particularly relevant to Holocaust education.  Link
  • Entry point for OJMCHE Oral history collection  Link
  • Echoes & Reflections: Teaching the Holocaust / Inspiring the Classroom Link
Assignment 4

See completed Assignment 4 here

Write a brief post the will serve as a reflective starting point for your work on this project. Due Sunday 9/24.

It could include:

  • ideas for memorial lesson design
  • reflection on memorial visit (you can build on email you sent me)
  • reflection on memorial or museum visit
  • opportunities or concerns
  • reaction to PBL as instructional approach
  • Something else

Image credit: Adobe Spark using photo detail of Oregon Holocaust Memorial by Peter Pappas

Class 14: Project Based Learning

Marshmallow ChallengeProject (or problem) Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge.  While this course has an ongoing PBL feel to it, today we approach the methodology head on with an activity and discussion.

Students will take part in the Marshmallow Challenge and use the experience to explore the challenges and opportunities of the project based approach to instruction. Plus we’ll see if my UP students can top these middle school “engineers” I worked with in Dallas TX (above).

Students in a traditional classroom spend the majority of their lessons learning basic knowledge from the teacher. Then maybe if there’s time, they may get a chance to apply the basics in an “activity.” (Note: that’s in quotes since the “activity” is so tightly aligned to lesson that it’s about as challenging as putting a round peg in a round whole.) PBL reverses that model. With a project as the goal, students go into action trying to uncover the foundational knowledge that will enable them to succeed. The project isn’t an add-on at the end of a lesson. It is the lesson.

Essential Elements of PBL include
  1. Significant Content – At its core, the project is focused on teaching students important knowledge and skills, derived from standards and key concepts at the heart of academic subjects.
  2. 21st century competencies – Students build competencies valuable for today’s world, such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity/innovation, which are explicitly taught and assessed.
  3. In-Depth Inquiry – Students are engaged in an extended, rigorous process of asking questions, using resources, and developing answers.
  4. Driving Question – Project work is focused by an open-ended question that students understand and find intriguing, which captures their task or frames their exploration.
  5. Need to Know – Students see the need to gain knowledge, understand concepts, and apply skills in order to answer the Driving Question and create project products, beginning with an Entry Event that generates interest and curiosity.
  6. Voice and Choice – Students are allowed to make some choices about the products to be created, how they work, and how they use their time, guided by the teacher and depending on age level and PBL experience.
  7. Critique and Revision – The project includes processes for students to give and receive feedback on the quality of their work, leading them to make revisions or conduct further inquiry.
  8. Public Audience – Students present their work to other people, beyond their classmates and teacher.

For more on the subject see my PBL-tagged posts.

A great source of PBL resources is the Buck Institute for Education –  register to access their resources.

We will also spend some class time proofing our document-based lesson chapters which have been assembled into a draft iBook. We’ll have them all loaded into the iPad cart.

Assignment: Write a reflection on the document-based lesson project.  It should be turned into your final blog post by 12/6. (Add an image from your lesson). Note: It will also be included in the final version of your iBook chapter.

Effective Tech in the Connected Classroom

up-tech-talkI recently was a guest on the UP Tech Talk Podcast produced by University of Portland’s Academic Technology Services and hosted by Maria Erb (Instructional Designer) and Sam Williams (Dir of Academic Tech Services). Kudos for the great ATS podcast studio!

What’s the least amount of technology you could use to get the job done.

We had a lively 18 minute discussion about my UP social studies methods class and technology’s role in instructional design – it opened like this …

Maria: Peter, so glad to have you on the podcast. We just had a great conversation … you managed to rattle off probably half a dozen Web 2.0 tools that you’re using just like you were a fish swimming in water; it just seems so easy and natural for you. I’m just wondering, how do you go about choosing which tools you’re going to use for these great projects that you’re working on? What piques your interest?

Peter: I think it really begins with seeing yourself as a designer of a learning experience. You work with the tools you have and with the setting you have. You’ve got X number of students; you’re meeting once a week; you’ve got three hours with them. You think about the instructional goals that you want to achieve, and then from there, you say, okay, so what kind of tools are out there. For example, there was a situation where I wanted them to collaborate and design some lessons. I wanted them to be able to share their work with one another and be able to comment on it. I also think it’s important that there always be a public product, because I think we find our students producing content for their instructor as opposed to … which is kind of a ritualized thing as opposed to real-world content.

And ended with this exchange …

Sam: Are there any words of wisdom around it’s not about the technology that you could leave us at the end of this podcast?

Peter: I would say the big question is what’s the least amount of technology you could use to get the job done. Taking something and making it prettier by putting it on a white board when you could have written it up on the chalk board really doesn’t get you anywhere. I think that the transformative part of technology is getting it in the hands of the students so that they can research and create and produce in ways you couldn’t do without it. For me, those are the essential elements that I’m looking at, not simply just something that’s a bright shiny object.

Text transcript (word file) | Show notes and links | Podcast at iTunes: #12

The University of Portland uses the SmartEval system to gather student feedback on courses and faculty. Here’s a few comments from my UP students that are relevant to this podcast:

  • Peter challenged us to think and be designers of curriculum, instead of just lecturers. We learned how to get students working and thinking critically in the classroom.
  • I liked that the focus of the class was on making a product.
  • He also showed us how to move from the lecture mode to engaging students as architects in their own learning process.
  • Very well connected with other educators on Twitter. He has promoted every student in the class using his connections to help us build professional connections and build a professional online presence.

Originally posted at Copy / Paste Jan 21, 2015

Oregon Council of the Social Studies Fall Conference

Hello fellow Social Studies educators,

For those of you who have not met me, my name is John Zingale and I am a former UP MAT grad from this past year.  While on my journey to become a Social Studies teacher I had the pleasure to meet Peter Pappas through my Methods teacher and a couple of EdCampPDX’s.

I am currently teaching Social Studies and Language Arts at iTech Prep Middle School in Vancouver, Washington.  I am teaching Social Studies in a STEM & project-based environment.  I am also a member of the Oregon Council of the Social Studies (OCSS) and I am here to promote our fall conference which is this next Saturday, October 5th.  At the conference I am presenting the research that I conducted while at University of Portland last year.  My topic is iHistory and integrating Digital Storytelling and Apple iPads into Social Studies classrooms.

I hope that you might be able to come and enjoy a day of exploring different Social Studies content and networking.  You can find out more information here.  Attached is a PDF with info on the fall conference as well.


Thanks for your time,

– John M. Zingale

iTech Prep