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Project-Based Learning 2013

Page history last edited by Don Doehla 7 years, 5 months ago


What topics are both appropriate and engaging for novice learners?

How can we structure units to keep interactions in the target language?

How can we evaluate projects using proficiency goals?

How do we manage collaboration and group progress?


Another way of looking at questions 2 & 3 above:  what is the relative value of TL use v. exploration?  In other words, can we reasonably expect that interactions of novice students will be in TL?  If not, does the value of what they learn supersede the value of using TL for the task?


How can we organize language classrooms to incorporate technology that enhances learning?

What are components of an effective student-driven/student-centered lesson or unit?

What adaptations are helpful for 1:1 computing classrooms or flipped instruction?


(Heather) My #1 burning question is "How do I set up my expectations, instruction, and student collaboration time so that my students are progressing in language skills, rather than sending pictures to friends on Instagram? I will have a class set of IPads this year, so I need to shift my instructional focus from me giving information and guiding activities to students carrying out tasks with me as a facilitator and coach. 




Establish routines in the TL and a list of commonly used phrases

--Teach a short "Survival Unit" at the beginning of the course that sets out expectations and lets students practice

http://rockhillsdworldlanguages.wikispaces.com/Survival+Unit+%28L1+%26+L2%29  includes a downloadable guide for a 1 week survival unit

"Passion project" for upper levels to choose their own Driving Question (establish expert contacts early).

Encompass several "mini units" under the headings of Driving Questions.





Hello everyone...

The Langcamp project is very ambitious and a terrific idea! I really applaude you all for this - well done!


As for PBL - my work with BIE and Edutopia has been on-going for several years now. I have also worked with Lisa Lilly, whom some of you know well. She is outstanding, as we know!


As for me, I have been doing workshops on how to do PBL in WL, especially in California, which may be why we have not yet met apart from our common work on Twitter, especially on LangChat. (my name is Don, @dr_dmd)


I have been building a non-collaborative wiki on PBL, which I prefer to call Project-based Learning. Here is the link, in case you are interested:



I have developped a planning template for PBL-WL which you will find on the wiki, along with a few example projects, primarily for French since that is what I teach. I have rubrics as well, not just for the content literacy piece, but also for digital projects and, for each of the 4 C's of 21st Century skills (communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration). These are in constant revision as I am still working on PBL for WL! Honestly, there is still a lot yet to figure out about PBL-WL. Even BIE has not really yet been able to address the matter fully, which is why I am working with them. They do offer a workshop for WL, however, it often does not fill up with enough participants to run it. We keep hoping!


One of the key areas for inquiry on PBL-WL is the way to keep student in Target Language - I am working on that, but I don't yet have a lot to share on the matter. 


Another is addressing how it is just different in WL. In traditional PBL, the project itself is the final outcome of the inquiry. I don't think that is the case for us. In WL, it seems to me that the project is the means for engaging students in their own inquiry, in response to open ended driving questions, giving them voice and choice about the way they move forward. Once the project has been completed and presented, I think we still need to do summative proficiency assessments, oral and written, and in all three modes - ideally, we would find a way to assess these 6 total outcomes for each unit - we all know that reality and ideal to not always intersect!


Yet another point - I have come to the conclusion that it is essential that we think of PBL-WL as a plan which extends over the several years a student takes his/her WL curriculum. It is very challenging, if not impossible to incorporate all 8 elements of BIE's model for PBL at the early novice level, if we want (and I absolutely do want) to have the students work exclusively in the target language. I seek to introduce the 8 elements one or two at a time over the course of the four years I hope students will take French in my school. My colleague teaches the level 2 classes, and she is starting to do some PBL-aligned work. Nevertheless, I can do much more in-depth and authentic PBL-WL with intermediate to advanced level students than with novice students. I think the novice students need to grow into the full PBL-WL model over time. This seems to be working well, and keeps me on track for the 90%+ objective with the target language.


And finally, at least for now... I think that many of the driving questions we have tried (me included) are not quite hitting the mark - just my opinion! I want the DQs to be open ended, real world, and much more meaningful for the target language and cultures, as well as relevant for teens. One of the main reasons I am working on PBL-WL is because I want more enagagment from my students. I don't think they really care much about why they really must learn another language from the academic perspective! When they sign up for Spanish, French, Japanese... there are some who are thinking about their graduation and university entrance requirements, to be sure. However, on the first day of school, when I ask my students why they chose French, and what they hope to accomplish and/or learn in the class, they usually say I am keen to learn to communicate with a family member in France or Canada, or they want to learn how to cook French cuisine, or they have some other real tangible personal goal. I want to make more opportunities for students to drive their own learning! So... I wonder if we can create better DQs? Perhaps something like this (a DQ I used this year with great success):


"How can we, as a team of journalists, create a newspaper for teens in France, to help them learn what it means to be a teen from Québéc? What is it that makes them identify as being québécois? How do they live out their own culture?"



"How can we, playing the role of actors in a movie and directors, producers of a movie production studio, portray the way an American teen might integrate into a French high school? How would he/she become part of a small group of friends in France?" 


Here is a movie one group made this year as an example. Enjoy!






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