Reflecting on your PBL

How did it go?

take project-based learning to the next levelIt can be easy to end your project-based learning experiences with students in a big heap of exhaustion and miss the opportunity to reflect on the experience. There is so much to learn and gain from gathering your (and your students’) reflections.

But how do you do that? Let’s look at some ways.

Choose some reflective questions

Ponder the following questions, shared in this super informative post by Charity Moran Parsons from the Buck Institute:

These can be done individually or in a team. But the general pattern of these reflections is: what did I think / hope / plan would happen, and what can I learn from how things actually went? And look at all the stakeholders featured in these questions! You + your students + their families / community members = a full circle of feedback. Never doubt the amount which your larger school or town community wants to weigh in on your students’ projects.

Consider a protocol

Another way to ponder changes in your thinking is with this protocol, shared by John Larmer of BIE:

I used to think….now I think

This can probe developing thinking in terms of project based learning, instructional practices, and personalization. Look at how the perspective has changed: this exercise is all about you. You as a teacher, leader and learner with regards to project-based learning. But what a powerful exercise for you to do with your team!

Consider a visual or two

Ponder this image on Authentic Audience. How can you move up the pyramid? What are the ways you can increase engagement and authenticity from having a more relevant audience? A different format, perhaps? Many teachers rely on a science fair presentation model. Student standing at a table and presenting their work. Is that getting a bit stale? Would a film festival, a series of student TEDTalks, or a focused community group presentation work better?

 How can you move students up the continuum of voice?

Ask the kids!

Round up your class. Either as a whole group discussion,  in small groups, or individually. As them questions (or your own!) about their projects and record their answers:

  • What was your favorite thing about the project?
  • What was the hardest part of the project?
  • Is there anything you think could have been better?
  • What do you think I should change about the experience?
  • What would make this project more engaging and fulfilling for you?

Decide what you want to change for next year. Write it down somewhere you will find it! Start gathering resources for how to do it and then… go put your feet up with some lemonade and pat yourself on the back. You’ve done amazing things with your students this year.

 How did it go? What did you notice that already has you plotting PBL for next year?


Katy Farber

Farber joined TIIE after 17 years as a classroom teacher in central Vermont. She is passionate about promoting student and teacher voice, engaging early adolescent students, sharing the power of service learning, and creating inclusive communities where joy, courageous conversations and kindness are the norm. She lives in central Vermont with her husband and two daughters and loves being outside with family and friends, listening to music, writing about the world, and jumping into Vermont ponds and lakes.

What do you think?