Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Creating & Using Rubrics for PBL Assessment 4.4

Rubrics are grading tools that can be used for summative as well as formative assessment and they are also a very useful tool to help students with self- and peer assessment. While they can be used for grading, they should in fact be seen as a learning resource that is used by students throughout their workRubrics lend themselves especially well for PBL because they can capture a complex range of criteria in an organized and clear way

 the Rubistar website is a great tool that can help you create a rubric for your PBL activities
It already features a lot of pre-determined rubrics that you can adapt or translate into your own language. 

A series of interesting rubrics where you can get a feel how others are approaching rubrics. You can see other participant's rubrics via this link here.

You can also find quite a number of ready-made rubrics that are relevant for PBL here. If you register on the BIE website you can download the rubrics as pdfs or Word documents so you will be able to adapt or translate them according to your own needs. On this page you can find some more rubric examples, mostly in Spanish but also some in English.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

peer assessment

Peer assessment is simply a matter of students giving informed feedback to one another on an assignment. Effective peer assessment is related to clear standards and is supported by a constructive process of critique. Peer assessment is a valuable tool because feedback from peers can be delivered with more immediacy and in greater volume than teacher feedback. Peer assessment should happen during the learning process, on works-in-progress, and be followed by opportunities for students to use the feedback they received to revise their work.
Peer assessment is not a process by which peers determine grades for one another. Although some teachers have had success with peer grading, turning peer assessment into peer evaluation is risky and may lead to negative attitudes toward the peer assessment process. In general, peers provide feedback; teachers provide grades.


1. DETERMINE THE CRITERIA ON WHICH THE ASSIGNMENT WILL BE ASSESSED (WHAT COUNTS). This can be done by the teacher alone, or preferably by co-constructing a checklist or rubric with students.
2. THE TEACHER GROUPS STUDENTS INTO SMALL PEER FEEDBACK GROUPS. Two to four students can be grouped based on ability level.
3. THE TEACHER MODELS EFFECTIVE PEER FEEDBACK FOR STUDENTS. The teacher may take an assignment and use the Ladder of Feedback protocol (see page 3) to ask clarifying questions, state what she values about the assignment, list what concerns her about it, and ultimately make suggestions (not mandates) that may be used to improve the assignment.2
4. STUDENTS RECEIVE A CHECKLIST OR DOCUMENT THAT REMINDS THEM HOW TO DELIVER EFFECTIVE PEER FEEDBACK. The Ladder of Feedback is a good choice of a checklist for students to use as a quick reference.
5. THE TEACHER CLARIFIES THE ASSIGNMENT FOR THE STUDENTS. Clarification includes performance to be peer assessed and the timeline for that assessment.
6. THE TEACHER ACTIVELY MONITORS THE PROGRESS OF THE PEER FEEDBACK GROUPS. Students will need a lot of support when they are first introduced to peer assessment, and less as they become accustomed to it.
7. THE TEACHER MONITORS THE QUALITY OF FEEDBACK. The teacher ensures that her students are using the constructive feedback protocol (possibly the Ladder of Feedback).
8. PEER FEEDBACK IS CHECKED FOR RELIABILITY. The teacher may compare her feedback on an assignment with a student’s feedback to check for alignment and provide further support and instruction if needed.

The Ladder of Feedback is a good tool to help promote effective peer feedback between students. It involves four steps. It is sometimes helpful to have one group member “police” the ladder to make sure the rungs are climbed in order. After a student shares a work-in-progress with peers, his peers will:
1. Ask clarifying questions they have about the work. Some ideas may seem unclear, or information may be missing. This step helps peers gather relevant information before they give feedback.
2. State what they value, or comment on the strengths of the work. Expressing appreciation for ideas is fundamental to the process of constructive feedback. Stressing the positive points of the work sets a supportive tone during the feedback session, and helps people to identify strengths in their work they might not have recognized otherwise.
3. Raise any concerns they may have about the work. During this step, honest thoughts and concerns are raised in a constructive, non-threatening way. “What I wonder about is . . .” and “Have you considered . . .” are examples of how concerns may be framed.
4. Make suggestions about how the work could be improved. Give suggestions, based on problems identified in the concerns step, that can help the student use the feedback to revise his work and make improvements. There is no guarantee the learner will use the suggestions, nor need there be a guarantee. Suggestions are just that—suggestions, not mandates.

"Kind, thoughtful and effective feedback"

My comment on the padlet

Monday, June 27, 2016

Assessing PBL

Assessment should be about "sitting beside someone", providing feedback and helping them to improve. Assessment should not only be about giving a grade at the end but it should be an on-going process, where teachers and students alike assess their learning as they work on the projects.

Assessment as part of PBL should not only come at the end but should be seen as a learning activity that is embedded throughout the PBL process. It should become a standard feature of any scaffolding activities you might plan for your PBL implementation. Such type of assessment is known as formative assessment.

22 simple assessment strategies and tips

Friday, June 24, 2016

Building my PBL Learning Design

Now we focus on scaffolding for student independence and ownership, building resilience and an entrepreneurial mindset in general.
Our Design (updated) should ideally provide opportunity for students
  • to identify the questions they would like to pursue (within the context of the Driving Question)
  • to make choices on all key project-related aspects such as resources used, products created, use of time, etc. 
  • to take significant responsibility and work independently from the teacher, but with guidance if necessary
  • to reflect during the project about their own work and learning

Developing Entrepreneurial Skills


strategies to develop student resilience

What is resilience? It comes from the Latin resilire, “to bounce back”. Resilience refers to the capacity to return to good mental health after challenging and difficult situations. It is not one specific thing, but a combination of skills and attributes that help to solve problems, cope with challenges, adapt and bounce back when things don´t go as planned. Resilient people learn from their mistakes, they look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth.

I think that I'm resilient enough myself!

A "Reverse Brainstorming" exercise! In Reverse Brainstorming we will answer the opposite question of what we actually want to achieve. This triggers some unusual thinking and brings a new perspective on the problem. So while we ultimately want to be able to build confidence and independence in our students,  in this Padlet, we identify how we as teachers can weaken our student's confidence and independence. 

An Entrepreneurial Mindset 3.3

I'm glad I have been a member of the "Entrepreneurship in education" etwinning group and lots of what we deal with in this module are more or less familiar to me. Thank you Kornelia!

Developing student-driven activities for PBL

Next to developing collaborative skills of students, another key part of PBL is for students to take ownership of tasks, initiative at solving problems, and most importantly to stick with these tasks and problems until they have come to a satisfactory conclusion. In other words, we try to develop a student-driven environment in which the energy and persistence of what is happening in the classroom does not primarily come from us but from the students
Albert Einstein's quote above captures one of the key essences of this module: getting students' to develop grit and resilience to stay with a problem or project even though they have failed previously is one the most difficult parts of PBL and at the core of developing a student-driven environment. As an example and at a quite simple level, when students work for the first time in a group as part of PBL, the first attempts at collaboration might not be successful. It is essential that students don't become frustrated and demotivated but rather excited and motivated to try again and improve, again and again and again. Creating an environment that allows and promotes this, is what the module is all about. 
The learning objectives for this module are:
  1. Understanding the importance of scaffolding the PBL process so that students increasingly develop independence and ownership over the tasks
  2. Understanding the importance of a positive environment and mindset for building student confidence and resilience
  3. Developing a range of activities, strategies and tools that facilitate an entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurial skills
Describe a situation in your professional or personal life where you were first unsuccessful but because you stuck with it you succeeded in the end. Finish by identifying why you stuck with the problem/task and did not give up (and make sure to copy your entry also into your Learning Diary).

My first pbl attempts in my classroom feel like unsuccessful so far. But I love the idea and the potentials of it so I keep trying. That's why I'm here. I hope I will succeed in the end. I was stuck so far because I didn't know much. I was mostly driven by my will to do pbl, without having much of knowledge or first hand experience. I'm trying, trying, trying, trying.....

The shared padlet  here:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

original thinking in group works

I came across this article, and couldn't resist to re-posting  the parts that impressed me most. 
How does working in groups contribute to original thinking?
You know, if you look at brainstorming research, we’ve got, now, almost half a century of experiments and field studies. What you see is that if you take five students and put them in a brainstorming group together, you will get fewer ideas and less original ideas than if you had taken those same five students and let them work independently, in separate rooms, by themselves.
And teachers find this maddening when they learn about it, because it goes against the idea of teaching teamwork and two heads are better than one. But there a few things that happen that make brainstorming groups less than the sum of their parts.
One is called production blocking, and it’s the basic idea that we can’t all talk at once. And as a result, some ideas and some students just don’t get heard. Two, there’s ego threat, where kids are nervous about looking stupid or foolish, so they hold back on their most original ideas. And then, three is conformity. One or two ideas get raised that are popular. Everyone wants to jump on the majority bandwagon, as opposed to bringing in some radical, different ways of thinking.
You put kids in separate rooms, what you get is all of the ideas on the table, and then you can bring the group together for what the group does best, which is the wisdom of crowds. The evaluating. The idea selecting. The figuring out which of these ideas really has potential to be, not only novel, but also useful.
And I think that’s where you teach kids to work together effectively in groups. You say that individual idea generation works together really well, but then the group can come together to figure out which ideas to really bet on.
That technique is actually called brain writing. Instead of brainstorm. It’s a great term and I think we should do more of it.
Procrastination can lead to originality. What do teachers do with this? What have you done with it in your classroom?
Look, let me confess. I am a precrastinator, not a procrastinator. That’s an actual term for someone who likes to dive into things as early as possible and finish them ahead of schedule. And I have always worn this like a badge of honor. I finished my doctoral dissertation two years before it was due. I wrapped up my undergrad college thesis four months before the deadline. And I thought this was a great way to be productive.
And then I found that precrastination is a virtue for productivity, but it’s kind of a vice for creativity. I had a student who did all this research in a bunch of companies showing that precrastinators like me, who did everything early, were less creative than people who procrastinated, as rated by their bosses.
And then we followed up and did some experiments where we randomly assigned people to procrastinate, which is a fun task. After a lot of follow up research, what we discovered was great originality comes from being quick to start but slow to finish. That when you dive right into a task, you close yourself off to incubation. If you finish early, you’re stuck only with your most conventional ideas, your first ones. You never have time to think outside the box.
You also tend to think much more in linear, structured ways, as opposed to making these random connections and unexpected leaps that you do when you’re putting off the completion of a task. So the lesson here is that you want to give students time to let ideas marinate.
So when you’re working on a creative project, having a due date that’s a couple of hours later isn’t always the best way to go. And that sometimes what you can do is you can assign a task. You can have them work on it. And then you can extend the deadline and say I want you to go back to the drawing board and consider all those unexpected ideas that you just didn’t have time to look at before.
And then there’s an opportunity to open up a little more original thinking than they had before, but of course, if they procrastinate to the last minute, they’re not going to be creative either because then they just have to rush to panic to do the first ideas as opposed to the most novel ideas.
by Adam Grant, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, author of the book "Originals". 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Collaboration tools 2.5

TeamUp! yes!
A tool that I have used and it's fun, unless there is an internet connection problem...

And here is what my classmates are proposing as collaborative tools. 

Finding collaboration partners outside the classroom 2.4

Reflecting on which people from your community you or your students could engage with. 

Reminder: My teaching subjects  are related to agriculture.
Think about if you have contacts to or knowledge of networks of local professionals? 
I do know local professionals, agronomists and farmers.
Which organisations or people engage with the school on a regular basis? 
Only educational authorities and pedagogic counselors. If we want to collaborate with professionals we need special permission from our educational authorities, justified by the pedagogic counselors. A lot of bureaucracy that demotivates us. 
Are there any businesses working with the school such as caterers, IT companies, or sports organisations? 
Businesses? No! The school seems isolated from the community. But we can organize educational visits. 
Who are your school's neighbours? 
Ordinary people.
Could they be approached? 
Yes, by us. To enter the school they need the special permission mentioned above. Students can get in contact with others only after school and with their parents permission, in the frames of some project.
What about school alumni? 
That's a bit easier.
And who could you or your students ask for support in identifying the right people? 
Collaborating with parents or with the parents' association can be fruitful.
It's much easier to communicate and exchange with businesses and professionals by social networks, online. It has happened to me to ask for support from a software company  from Australia and get it. Technology can facilitate collaboration.
Linking school with the real world is very important but we  need more flexibility. Our needed working hours end up in surpassing the day-light time. How many pbl approaches can we implement when we teach 5-6 different subjects, in the frames of a full time timetable and how much time do we have to invest, out of school to get prepared? Wondering... 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Effective Collaboration for PBL inside the Classroom 2.3

"Collaboration does not just happen, it needs to be learned and we canprovide our students with the environment and the scaffolding to help them become effective collaborators." 

Watching this video on structuring collaboration for students success ...

....I remembered the dizziness at the end of a project based class, after the endless movement from group to group to explain, help, facilitate. Madness but creative madness! :)

Ideas for developing collaborative skills... ?
I love the "chopstick challenge"!
This is my contribution to the dotstorming

and here is an idea that I liked
 and I could combine with my method of creating the teams. Instead of announcing the members of each team, they could discover them while searching for their "relatives". Cool!

What is effective collaboration? 2.2

A short description of what real collaboration is

A very detailed document about collaboration here 

And my personal experience in collaboration of students in my classes... It was difficult for me to answer the "yes or no" questionnaire. Because all my answers were: "it depends..." or "sometimes"

Are your students required to work in pairs or groups in most lessons?
Not always. It depends on the lesson. Do your students have shared responsibility for tasks?
Not always. I know that they should. The more I learn about pbl the better I organize the teams. Do your students have to make substantive decisions when working together (decisions that will impact the result of their joint work)?
Usually yes. That's the core element of collaboration, isn't it?  Is the students' work interdependent of each other (in other words can they only succeed together)?
It should be. But happens when one students doesn't work? The rest want that their team succeeds, so they take over his work. Is it right? Should I leave the team fail because of one student? 

Today I've learned two new words in english: substantive= ουσιαστικός
interdependent= αλληλοεξαρτώμενος

Sunday, June 12, 2016

feedback received

Today I received feedback for my driving question from Doriana Palumbo and I'm posting it here because I really like the way she explains her point of views, it's a constructive review and I take her reflections into account.
I'm adding my response to her comments, as if we were discussing and I wish we could.

Firstly, I totally agree with you when you say that is not easy to implement PBL, but I strongly believe in its positive outcomes, in terms of learning motivation, deeper learning process and improvement of students ' skills and competencies.
Nothing worthy is easy for sure, that's why I've kept trying to improve myself during the last 3 years that  I started experimenting with pbl. It's a pity that neither the school infrastructure, nor colleagues or timetable supports us so far and that's when it becomes even more difficult. 
Secondly, you have consciously applied PBL components to your course design, but I think that you should plan better the following parts :
- data collection : can they only search information from their parents ' practices? Why not providing them also with further data sources, like local authorities or producers? They could get inspired by different agricultural practices.
I thought that we were not supposed to give many details on the plan. What you suggest is what I had in mind. Students cannot have an overview of the topic else how. 
- driving question : does your driving question involve any challenging tasks? I teach German so I don't know what goal you think they should  achieve..  maybe pollution produced by animals? You should get to the point with your driving question, because I think it's important for them to know what to focus on. For example, imagining you are an inspector and you have to prove the sustainability of our local agriculture,  what kind of analysis would you make? Which adjustment would be necessary? 
The whole teaching subject that lasts a school year includes many different points to focus, so there could be different tasks, and different driving questions related to the basic big idea. I love your proposal.
- student driven learning : in my opinion,  this is the hardest part to accomplish. I would say to let them decide if farmers are able or not to improve the soil and respect the environment. We are used to foresee everything,  but I think we sometimes understate their skills. Let them come up with a solution on their own. 

That's my usual practice. And I'm always amazed of what they can imagine. 

Thank you Doriana!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Essential Project Design Elements

Shared by Andrea Ullrich
Interesting reading and food for thought

It’s encouraging that Project Based Learning is becoming popular, but popularity can bring problems. Here at the Buck Institute for Education, we’re concerned that the recent upsurge of interest in PBL will lead to wide variation in the quality of project design and classroom implementation.
If done well, PBL yields great results. But if PBL is not done well, two problems are likely to arise. First, we will see a lot of assignments and activities that are labeled as “projects” but which are not rigorous PBL, and student learning will suffer. Or, we will see projects backfire on underprepared teachers and result in wasted time, frustration, and failure to understand the possibilities of PBL. Then PBL runs the risk of becoming another one of yesterday’s educational fads – vaguely remembered and rarely practiced.
Continue reading the article here...

refining the question

After conceiving my BIG idea (!) for a project based learning activity on
"How is agriculture in our area influencing our environment"
changing it into "What is the impact of agriculture in our environment"
not being satisfied with it
and brainstorming with myself
I came up to other options and I'm kindly asking you to vote for the one you like best

Thank you in advance for your contribution!

Friday, June 10, 2016

peer review

One of the highlights of this course, is the peer review, for sure.
My personal feeling about it?
I was anticipating to see how teachers from different schools, different cultures, see my project idea.
I want to thank Theodosis Theodosiou and Vasiliki Archondi who reviewed my 1.3 exercise.

But mostly, I enjoyed reading about the ideas of my course-mates!. It's a trip into some other person's mind, isn't it?
It's very difficult to review a project idea of another teacher, especially when he/she comes from a different country, from a different school level, teaching different subjects. I was more or less afraid to write my review, because maybe I was seeing things from a different perspective. It's the foreign language  too that doesn't help in explaining.

To review we must reflect on what we have  learned so far, so there is deeper learning while reviewing but I'd love to collaborate with some other teachers to build the final product together. It's not easy in a Mooc, I know and as Benjamin Hertz mentioned in one of the fb group posts: what this course is missing is a more structured and committed form of collaboration, especially if it would attempt to replicate a PBL process for the learners. The cooperation that you are engaging in is very much up to everyone themselves and it is in fact not collaboration but cooperation (the difference between collaboration and cooperation will be explored in Module 2). A more structured collaboration is very difficult to implement in a MOOC, simply because there are so many learners. We are working on a technical solution that will hopefully help us to address this as we would love to have some real group work happening on our courses. So keep an eye out for it in the future!
I keep an eye out for it in the future!!!

the resources issue

Thank you Arjana for the "It's a project-based word" resources!
(That's the great importance of getting connected)
Interesting speech!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

my PBL Design: Formulating my driving question m1-1.6


driving question?

This question should be the guiding principle for the entire PBL process that you will go through with your students"

That's how I have imagined my next pbl course
we will focus on our area
Will it work?
I can imagine students gathering local information on the topic and making some 
infographic? presentation? flyer? to inform farmers of our area 

The driving question seems: 
open-ended: since there are specific agricultural activities in our area (greenhouses mainly), different aspects of the environment are influenced and the final product can be different for each team
engaging and inspiring students by creating curiosity: because it is related to their own area and the activities of most of their parents
be aligned to your learning goals: because it's clearly curriculum based
and at the same time being non-Googleable: because students will need local data 

(Update 11th of June - brainstorming)
On a second (and third and forth) thought, I think that it's not a very good driving question.
Maybe the "What should we say to the farmers of our area about the environment?" is better...
or What does the soil want to say to our farmers?
What does the micro-world think about our farmers?
What would be the verdict in a trial between farmers and environment?
I guess that the smaller the project, the easiest to find a good driving question.

components of good pbl 1.4

Here they are! My creative concept!

which of the 5 components I feel will be the most challenging for me to realize and why?
  • effective collaboration? 
  • I can handle it.
  • is it assessment because your curriculum requires very regular and rigid summative assessments that you are worried will get in the way of PBL? 
  • No, I can handle it, although it's time consuming. 
  • Or maybe you are more concerned about the passivity of your students in lessons and getting them to take the initiative? 
  • Hmmmm....the passivity that will be connected with a wrong driving question, yes. But I'm mostly concerned about the right connection with a real world problem, and how I will combine it with my teaching subjects. It seems that not all subjects are ideal for pbl. If I could collaborate with other teachers and subjects, I think it would have been easier. Anyway.... since every year I teach different subjects, I must use my summer for reflecting, planning, getting organized. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

the driving question 1.5

From a draft to an info-graphic! 

Last night, while I was watching the video concerning the driving question

I was taking notes, handwritten notes, to visualize what I was listening to.

Later on, reflecting on what I had drafted, I decided to make an infographic.

and that was the best way to remember how to form a driving question.

Isn't that what we expect from students in a pbl approach? 
Learning by doing, being inspired and engaged!

(update of 11th of June)
I'm adding this great resource on driving question, mentioned by Olga Passlidou, originating from this webpage. There is a lot to study there! Thanks Olga for sharing!

Now I think that I must reconsider my initial choice on the driving question of my project idea!

Reflections on my current teaching practice m1-1.3

1.3 task is not just a course task that has to be completed, but Interesting questions that I was reflecting on, even while cooking!

What teaching strategy do you use most commonly? 
Depending on the  teaching subject, a mixture of traditional and project based strategy.

What do YOU do most of the time in the classroom? 

What do the students do most of the time? 
During my theoretical courses, they are mainly listening, taking notes.
But actually, they are talking to each other, getting distracted when they are not engaged in the learning process.

Do you feel your current approach could be easily complemented with a PBL approach? 
Easily? No. But it would be more effective, for sure.

Do you sometimes have the problem that students don't remember what they "learned" the day before? 
How do you address this? 
repeating and repeating and repeating.....

Do you already use some of the PBL approaches mentioned in the video? 
My most successful etwinning projects where fully integrated into my teaching subjects and the lessons were following project based learning approach.
Odysseus - research project on Human Rights
Planning our sustainable town - research project on sustainability
Two islands inspire - research project and landscape design
In fact, etwinning has played a major role in the change of my teaching.

What works, doesn't work? Why? 
In the end of each pbl attempt I make an evaluation of my planning, of my implementation, of students' engagement and learning. I'm not satisfied with the result and I try to spot my mistakes. That's why I'm following this course. I like this pedagogic method and I want to improve myself as a facilitator of knowledge.
The fact is that there is no magic recipe to follow. There are some directives that the educator must know and use flexibly, depending on the students of each class.
What keeps impressing me is that later, students remember details of those lessons that I wasn't expecting them to remember. Learning by doing, right?
I've faced problems on late planning, on the way to form teams, on forming the right driving question, on the use of technology and the available resources, on the students' evaluation. Each case was different and I had to adapt to different situations. It made me be more careful with planning and improved my organization skills for sure.
I feel that I'm an amateur. Sometimes things went wrong because I didn't know how to be flexible.
BUT, no matter how many difficulties I have faced during my attempts for pbl, I don't regret. I remember each of these  attempts with joy and I keep the enthusiasm, my own enthusiasm that most of the times was/is being transmitted to my students. 

How do you find out about your student needs and how do you incorporate this knowledge in your teaching? 
It's a major issue! In the beginning, I was deciding the course where I would use pbl, on my own. Then I realized that it was a mistake. If I had the consent of my students they would engage more, so I started asking them, in the beginning of the school year, about how they would like to learn the specific subject. Then we brainstorm on the final product. I have to admit that I'm trying to influence them, in favor of my choice!...
I ask them to fill a questionnaire too, to identify their strong and weak points, so that I adapt my techniques and the teams.

A class and a subject topic that I teach which I can use to experiment with PBL.
This is the perfect timing for me, to reflect on this. The curriculum is being changed again and next school year I'm about to teach "environment and agriculture" in my B class of the department of agriculture, ages 16. I want to find a way to follow a pbl approach and I believe that this teaching subject helps. Time to experiment again! 

(It ends up quite a pleasure to keep this diary!)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

is it pbl? why use pbl? 1.2

Many times I have been wondering:
Will this work? 
Is it planned well? 
Will students manage to complete the tasks?
Have they learned?
Pbl in the classroom is a huge task for a teacher. Every help, every resource, every exchange of good  practices is more than welcome. That's why I feel lucky to have enrolled in this course!

the What?

the Why?

By the way, I like dotstorming tool! 
I highlight this entry, written by Marijana Dvorski