Rigorous PBL by Design

Rigorous PBL by Design : Three Shifts for Developing Confident and Competent Learners

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Project- and Problem-Based Learning is a very popular method of instruction, but PBL is often not designed thoughtfully to address surface, deep, and transfer learning outcomes. In this book, McDowell describes three key shifts that need to happen in PBL design to reach students' learning goals, which are clarity, challenge and culture. When these shifts are implemented in PBL design, the result is learners who are both confident and competent. Confident learners have a growth mindset, are assessment capable, and collaborate. Competent learners have the right surface and deep knowledge, and can transfer it to new situations.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 177 x 254 x 17.78mm | 440g
  • Corwin Press Inc
  • Thousand Oaks, United States
  • English
  • 1506359027
  • 9781506359021
  • 106,288

Table of contents

Foreword by John Hattie
Chapter 1. Focusing on Confidence and Competence in Learning
Confident and Competent Students at Work: Sir Francis Drake High School
Confidence in Learning Attributes
Competence in Learning Levels: Surface, Deep, and Transfer
PBL as a Vehicle to Build Confidence and Competence in Learning
Chapter 2. Designing PBL for Student Confidence and Competence
Make PBL Effective
Advancing PBL by Design
Chapter 3. Design Shift I: Clarity-Understanding Expectations of Learning Upfront
Clear Expectations Motivate Learning
Where Am I Going in My Learning?
Steps for Determining Clear Learning Intentions and Success Criteria in Project Design
Chapter 4. Design Shift II: Challenge-Structuring and Sequencing Learning Through Projects
Designing for Challenge and Intervention
Step 1 (Plan A): Align Student Activities and Teaching Actions According to Surface, Deep, and Transfer Expectations
Step 2 (Plan B): Structure Inquiry to Identify Student Performance and Provide Support That Aligns With the Learning Needs of Students
Chapter 5. Design Shift III: Culture-Knowing and Acting on Impact Collectively
Developing a Culture of Confidence
Chapter 6. Reflections on PBL Practice
Working Together for Impact
Retooling PBL to Serve as a Vehicle for Confidence and Competence
Afterword by Suzie Boss
Appendix A. Project Design Template
Appendix B. Sample Projects
Appendix C. PBL Design Shift and Key Elements Checklist
Appendix D. Recommended Texts for PBL Implementation
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Review quote

"For the Marine Mammal Center, mobilizing the next generation of marine scientists and conservationists is at the heart of our mission. We believe that well-designed PBL experiences are critical in preparing students to solve some of our planet's most serious challenges. Rigorous PBL By Design is an outstanding resource to both formal and informal educators, providing a practical framework for creating effective and impactful PBL experiences. The Education team at The Marine Mammal Center is committed to strengthening our PBL practices and we look forward to adding this valuable resource to our professional reference library." -- Rachel Bergren, MSc, Director, Education and Guest Experience "This book is spot-on in being both practical and deeply informative for educators working to implement strong and lasting conditions that support PBL. And further, provides a road map that can lead to significant improvement on student learning. It is a great example of just-in-time coaching!" -- Jon Deasy, Founding Partner of Cambiar, CEO of New Day New Year, Executive Coach "What a brilliant piece of literature that unravels and addresses the challenges of an educational concept that has familiarity to almost all educators! In his book, Dr. McDowell presents a do-able means to making a positive change in learning by describing three design shifts-clarity, challenge, and culture. In this age of accountability when application of knowledge is required by academic standards, teachers of all grade levels can and will benefit from his approach to effectively implementing problem-based learning. The words practical and inspirational sum it up, as this guide will showcase PBL as a means to improving the instruction provided to learners, as well as making school a more meaningful place for both teachers and students." -- Jan K. Hoegh, Associate Vice President "Educators interested in Project- and Problem-Based Learning are advised to read this book and heed its message. Michael McDowell highlights a point that can easily be lost in the enthusiasm for PBL; i.e., that the focus must always be on targeted learning outcomes. In other words, the project or problem is a vehicle to engage students in meaningful learning, and we must always keep this end in mind." -- Jay McTighe, Author and Consultant "Michael McDowells book provides powerful insights to ensure the conditions essential for PBL are present for increased impact on student learning. This magnificent book provides educators with practical ways to design authentic and 'ever-lasting' learning." -- Sarah Martin, Principal "This is a must-read for any teacher wanting to understand how to thoughtfully plan, organize, and carry out in his or her own classroom the kinds of Problem and Project Based Learning (PBL) that will truly enable students to acquire and demonstrate "surface, deep, and transfer of" content knowledge and skills at the maximum possible levels. During my 24 years in the classroom teaching elementary and secondary students, I regularly engaged learners in what I thought were correctly timed, well-designed PBL experiences that were both "hands-on/minds-on" and authentic. If I'd had this book to reference then, how much greater could those learning experiences have been for my students-and for me! Michael McDowell's thoroughly researched, instructive, and in-depth volume has now become my "gold standard" for understanding and applying PBL in today's classrooms. Rigorous PBL by Design is worthy of becoming a graduate-level text, while being, first and foremost, a readable and doable "how-to" guide for the interested teacher and leader." -- Larry Ainsworth, Author & Consultant "We need a book that focuses directly on student learning rather than a superficial process of teaching PBL. This book gives teachers the practices and procedures to directly support students in transferring their learning. For practitioners, this book makes a whole lot of sense." -- Steve Zipkes, Founding Principal "PBL has finally reached the tipping point. As I meet with school superintendents around the country, most of them have already started or know they need to begin full-scale adoption of PBL in their districts. What has been missing is a clear set of next steps to improve PBL practice. Rigorous PBL by Design steps into this void and provides much needed help by busting PBL myths and designing PBL improvements around "clarity", "challenge" and "culture". McDowell gives teachers and education leaders the concrete guidance they need to assure their PBL practices will meet the needs of their 21st century students." -- Ken Kay, CEO "Hattie's research showed that PBL has a low effect size. However, Hattie's intention behind exposing the effect size was not to have teachers throw it out. Rather, he wanted teachers and leaders to use evidence to look at how they do it, and improve on the process. In Rigorous PBL By Design, Michael McDowell does exactly that. McDowell provides a practical, step-by-step process using Hattie's research to help teachers improve PBL so it provides the effect on student learning that it should." -- Peter DeWitt, Ed.D., Author/Consultant "Far too many people assume that problem based learning simply works. It doesn't. It works when specific conditions are right. It works when the experience is designed in a way that build students' confidence and competence. That is easier said than done, which is why we are so pleased with this book. It guides readers through specific design features that they can use to ensure deep learning, and transfer of that learning, for students. McDowell has solved the problem and is willing to share is findings with others." -- Douglas Fisher & Nancy Frey "PBL, done well, helps students to develop the skills needed to be successful in a rapidly changing world. This book offers both a thought provoking and practical guide for educators looking to transform their classrooms through PBL. McDowell provides critical insights into common PBL pitfalls and identifies key design shifts that can deeply impact student learning. Novice and experienced PBL teachers alike will find this book helpful in improving their practice and delivering on the promise of PBL." -- Megan Pacheco, Chief Learning Officer "A highly practical and informative guide to project/problem based learning." -- Jo Boaler, Professor and Co-Founder of YouCubed "There are more than enough matrices and examples throughout the book to demonstrate the authors points. I particularly appreciate the extended examples provided via hyperlink. The book offers varied examples of grade levels and content to help teachers create a PBL project based on the author's recommendations." -- LaQuita Outlaw, Middle School Principal "This book is very thorough in explaining the differences between PBL done more as a project and done with student self-monitoring and transfer of knowledge. The teacher's role at each student's level (surface, deep and transfer) is explained clearly." -- Dana B. Leonard, SPED high school teacher "I've always advocated and often practiced problem-based learning in classrooms, but recently I've come up short with seeing the benefits of PBL that I expected. Rigorous PBL provided new direction and justification for why I need to change my practice. I can't wait for school to start!" -- Ernie Rambo, Teacher, 7th Grade U.S History "This book has the potential to truly improve PBLs impact on student learning." -- Tara Taupier, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services "If we believe that ALL students will succeed in school today, it will require all of us to let go some of the things that have been most essential to what we know about teaching and learning (our past practice and experience) and how we have let that define our profession. The level of engagement and connection to the world around them is the driver of learning for students today. PBL represents one of our best strategies to connect those essentials with the desired outcome of success for ALL. Our students need the tangible connection of "learning to life experience" as they have an increased access to the rote knowledge that drove education a generation ago. It is critical that educators further enhance the opportunities and experiences of students by enhancing their professional toolbox. PBL is an essential tool for all educators." -- Tom Hierck, Consultant/Author "An excellent tool for any educator, administrator, or professional development coach who wants to dive deep into designing an effective and rigorous PBL. This book provides excellent details for the reader and step by step instructions on designing as well as implementing a PBL to enhance student cognition." -- Tara Howell, Vice Principal and Educational Leader
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About Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell, Ed.D. is the Superintendent of the Ross School District. Most recently, he served as the Associate Superintendent of Instructional and Personnel Services at the Tamalpais Union High School District. During his tenure, the Tamalpais Union High School District was recognized by the Marzano Research Laboratories as one of the top highly reliable organizations in the United States, and schools within the district received recognitions by the US News and World Report, and honored with California Distinguished Schools accolades.

Prior to his role as a central office administrator, Dr. McDowell served as the Principal of North Tahoe High School, a California Distinguished School. Prior to administration, Dr. McDowell was a leadership and instructional coach for the New Tech Network supporting educators in designing, implementing, and enhancing innovative schools across the country. Before engaging in the nonprofit sector, Dr. McDowell created and implemented an environmental science and biology program at Napa New Technology High School, infusing 1:1 technology, innovative teaching and assessment, and leveraging student voice in the classroom. Additionally, Dr. McDowell, taught middle school math and science in Pacifica, CA.

Dr. McDowell is a national presenter, speaking on instruction, learning, leadership and innovation. He has provided professional development services to large school districts, State Departments of Education, and higher education. In addition, he was a former National Faculty member for the Buck Institute of Education and a key thought leader in the inception of their leadership work in scaling innovation in instructional methodologies. His expertise in design and implementation is complimented by his scholarly approach to leadership, learning, and instruction.

He holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Redlands and an Ed.D. from the University of La Verne. He received departmental honors for his work in Environmental Science and was awarded the Tom Fine Creative Leadership Award for his doctoral work at the University of La Verne. He has also completed certification programs through Harvard University, the California Association of School Business Officials, the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, and Cognition Education. He holds both a California single subject teaching credential and an administrative credential.
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Rating details

13 ratings
4.53 out of 5 stars
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3 8% (1)
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