News You Can Use!

April 2016

Problem-based Learning in the Classroom


  • is a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject through the experience of solving an open-ended problem
  • Students learn both thinking strategies and domain knowledge.
  • A fresh way to teach grade level standards and essential skills
  • Involves decision-making quickly and problem solving on the fly
  • A PBL lesson can last 20 minutes or a full week
Inquiry and Problem Based Learning

The Structure

1) Develop question - select one essential question for study

2) Stakeholder role - create a brief scenario and stakeholder role to set a context for inquiry

3) Gather information - teacher decides the parameters of research

4) Organize information - outline, graphic organizer...

5) Create evidence - what will the final product be?

6) Present findings - how will the product by presented?

7) Assess learning - formative vs. summative

An example of PBL

Visiting Chameleon:

Question - Your class has just received a message from the Zoo that a chameleon will be coming to live in your classroom. It will be with us for the entire school year. How can we create an environment in which it will survive?


Gather Information - You need evidence from 2 text resources and 1 online resource


Organize your information - You’ll need to organize your information into a chart


Create Evidence - Your evidence will be a blueprint of the home for your new chameleon


Present your findings - You’ll present your findings to the classroom


Assess your learning - Your home will need take into account food necessary, safe shelter needs, survival characteristics, climate requirements

Problem Based Learning in First Grade

One more example

How to be Healthy Campaign

Your school district needs to improve attendance. One of the common reasons students miss school is due to illness. A major focus to address the problem is to improve individual behavior. Your class is to design campaigns to teach healthy habits that promote good health. Select a single topic. Develop a message and program for an age group: elementary, intermediate 3-5, middle school 6-8, high school 9-12. The campaign may use print, web based and/or multimedia resources.

* Conduct a survey of your class.

What is their yearly absenteeism rate? Chart the results.

Why did they miss school? Make some general categories: illness, appointment, travel...

* What is your state's health ranking? Check it out on the interactive map at America's Health Rankings

* Create a marketing campaign with several specific steps to better health.

Your campaign must state the problem.

Explain why/how it is a problem.

What is your school's absenteeism rate for students? (Hint: Your school's annual No Child Left Behind Report card will give you that number. This is a public document.)

Set a SMART goal - (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results oriented, Time related.)

Strive to make the program appealing to the age group you have chosen. Think from the child's perspective.

Show them the benefits of your suggestions.

Be realistic. (Your approach should be "doable" in the real world.)

Be cost effective. (Giving each kid an expensive reward for better health is out.)

Proof the project. It is funny how speling errors and typeos sneak in to the bets work.

As a class - Evaluate the campaign projects.

Present the winning project to your student council, your school's administration or the School Board.

Want to try something like this in your classroom? Let's talk!