2c. Coach in local and global interdisciplinary units for real-world learning


This particular substandard asks coaches to guide teachers in creating real-world units where technology enables students to take on authentic roles, collaborate with others, and produce meaningful products. 

While it can be challenging to think outside of the box and make those local/global connections, the reward is that students have more authentic experiences in the classroom. This type of learning supports students in exploring real-world problems, thinking critically, and publishing work that is meaningful to an audience broader than just the teacher.

My first piece of evidence is a summary of my first ever coaching experience. I worked with an elementary school teacher in California to develop a Project Based Learning activity to wrap up a novel study. 

My other piece of evidence is an excerpt of a blog post I wrote about Project Based Learning. I have included a variety of digital tools that can support students in working through Project Based Learning. 

Evidence: Peer Coaching

In the spring of 2018, I had the opportunity to collaborate with an elementary teacher in California. Though we were 1,000’s of miles apart, technology enabled us to connect and co-plan an engaging Project Based Learning activity for her 6th graders. For highlights of the project, please see the Slideshow below.

Evidence: Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning is closely related to Inquiry Learning which I explored in Substandard 2D

So what constitutes Project Based Learning? According to the Buck Institute for Education (a nonprofit organization focused on promoting student learning through Project Based Learning), the PBL teaching method should include the following 8 components:

  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills: Project is goal-based and informed by standards with an emphasis on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and self-management.

  • Challenging Problem or Question: An appropriately challenging question or problem frames the project.

  • Sustained Inquiry: To explore the problem or question, students engage in research. Through the initial research, new questions emerge and are also explored.

  • Reflection: Students should have a chance to reflect on the process and outcome including what challenges they faced and how they tackled those challenges.

  • Authenticity: The project should deal with real-world concerns and issues relevant to students’ lives. The task, impact, and process should also be authentic.

  • Student Voice & Choice: Within the project, students have the opportunity to choose how to work and what to create to demonstrate learning.

  • Critique & Revision: Feedback is not final. Students have the opportunity to refine their product/project based on peer or teacher feedback.

  • Public Product: Audience for the final product is not just the teacher. Students have the chance to present or post their learning in a public forum.

Technology plays a vital role in the PBL process. Word processing tools like Google Docs can compile task lists and notes. Brainstorming and planning can be done via mind-mapping with tools like Coggle (which is also collaborative for peer feedback!). Curation tools like Google Keep, Evernote, Raindrop.io, elink.io, or Symbaloo can assist students in collecting online ideas and sources. Feedback can be given on student work using tools like Diigo or Hypothes.is. Projects can be completed using an endless variety of tools from video creators like iMovie, to infographic makers like Piktochart, to presentation tools like Prezi or Sway. Student work can be published online and shared with a worldwide audience using the power of social media.

For more on Project Based Learning and a case study of how a Language Arts teacher used PBL to transform a Holocaust unit, please see my post using the link below.