Project-Based Learning: 8 Essentials-PUBLIC AUDIENCES

ChipBooksI recently was reading a blog by Chip Wood, author of A Time To Teach a Time to Learn and Yardsticks and co-founder of the Northeast Foundation for Children, developers of the Responsive Classroom®.  I was excited to see the video he included in his current blog series entitled “The Real ‘Cor’, or Heart, of Common Core: Learning is inside the Student, not the Teacher”.  The video he used was an ELA project-based learning experience called: “Grant Writing: Blending Literature and Community”.  This project includes the Common Core Standards: ELA.RI.11-12.7 ELA.W.11-12.4 ELA.SL.11-12.4.

For me, I felt my two worlds of Responsive Classroom and Project-Based Learning collided!  I was also excited because “Public Audience” (one of the 8 essentials of PBL) is our focus for our May issues of the OCM BOCES-PBL Newsletter and Blog.  It was perfect timing!

In project-based learning, having students learn the standard through a real-life experience and then present that learning to an audience other than their class and teacher is the hallmark of a “main course” PBL.  The video that Chip references (see link below) shows an ELA classroom of student presenting to a public audience of real-life grant reviewers.  The students have to be well prepared beyond the standards of reading for information and writing to be able to apply the common core standards for speaking and listening.  I was taken by how articulate the students were.  The panel on the other hand felt there were areas for improvement and provided growth producing feedback.  I was struck by the one gentleman honestly stating that they weren’t as well prepared as they needed to be in their presentation and commented it was due to them “…not having many opportunities to speak to a public audience.”  This comment was huge.  How often do students have opportunities to speak and listen even though these are common core standards?  I feel Project-Based learning raises the bar on the speaking and listening standards.  The skills needed for the public audience is also part of the project’s mini-lessons and integrates these ELA standards across other content areas.  Prior to the final public audience presentation, students receive peer feedback through the use of critical friends protocol. Students are given an opportunity to improve their final product so that the presentation is highly engaging, informative and articulates the learning they acquired by being immersed in this PBL experience.  I was thinking how important it would be for a PBL school to look at the common core speaking standards Pre-K-12 and begin to scaffold these speaking and listening skills early on with the PBL public audience as the end in mind.

The teacher’s role also changes in PBL in regard to the public audience.  As the teacher expresses in the video, she becomes more of a coach and no longer the final evaluator.  The public audience holds students accountability for learning at a deeper level with the expectation to present beyond the classroom in a real-life feedback and evaluation format.

Referenced videos and articles:

  • Grant Writing: Blending Literature and Community – Grades 9-12, ELA, PBL
    Common Core Standards: ELA.RI.11-12.7 ELA.W.11-12.4 ELA.SL.11-12.4
  • Chip Wood’s Blog “Learning is Inside the Student, not the Teacher”:
  • Educational Leadership: December 2012/January 2013 | Volume 70 | Number 4
    Common Core: Now What? “Speaking of Speaking” Pages 74-76

Shaw_PatrickPatrick Shaw-Staff Development Specialist
Certified Trainer for Responsive Classroom®
Trainer for Project-Based Learning for OCM BOCES

One thought on “Project-Based Learning: 8 Essentials-PUBLIC AUDIENCES

  1. The teacher as the coach is a great way to look at it. I have been experimenting with PBL and have seen amazing work ethic from my students. The level of engagement has been awesome. My kids have truly taken charge of their learning and have been reading voraciously because they are invested in what they are learning. I plan on incorporating PBL as much as possible in my classroom.

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