Thursday, September 28, 2017

Math for the 21st Century - Learning Math for a Purpose
It had been fifteen years since I stepped foot into a classroom full of adolescents, and I have to admit the nervousness surfaced when I looked each and everyone of them in the eyes for the very first time. During the past fifteen years, I have learned about effective teaching strategies, standards-based education, and a variety of research-based practices. The only downfall of learning was not having the opportunity to apply this knowledge in a classroom setting. Teaching adolescents, I knew, would be a very rewarding and challenging experience for me, but I was excited and up for it!
Words that describe my feelings about math are...
~Math for the 21st Century students - Block E
  According to the students’ responses to an attitude survey and Answer Garden sentence prompt, “Words that describe my feelings about math are ….,” their experiences haven’t been positive ones. Refer to the results of the Answer Garden above.

Knowing how they felt about mathematics, I knew it was going to be difficult motivating them. There needed to be a “hook” - one that inspired them to have a genuine desire and purpose to learn mathematics.

This “hook” became the combination of their career choice and an authentic community career partner. In the September 14 blog, “Collaboration,” Daphne and Misti defined collaboration as “the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing.” A career partner, a student’s career choice, and math standards came together to result in this beautiful thing, called “collaboration.” The collaboration between the community career partner and student will be the vehicle to reach a common goal of researching and solving problems for a common career interest.
Students practicing presentations before they
meet with their career partners. 
The components of the project consisted of:

  • Research and Creation: Students researched and created a presentation (form of their choice) to share with their assigned career partner.
  • Authentic Task and Collaboration: After students shared their presentation, the community career partners provided them with a mathematical task related to the career goals of the student and math standards.
  • Production and Reflection: A month later, students presented a business report to the career partners based on the assigned tasks.

The authentic audience, a student’s career choice, and a career-related task provides a reason to learn the math standards. As one student states, “Learning has a purpose,” and having a purpose naturally motivates and provides a reason for student learning, which is a win-win for everyone!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A World of Learning

Image result for california

 Hello from sunny California! I am excited to share about the amazing journey our team experienced while in Napa, California for PBL World 2017.  It was a week of intense learning, deep reflection, purposeful work and team bonding.  The Bismarck crew included administrators, Library Media Specialists, an instructional coach and classroom teachers.  The following quotes are directly from the participants and I hope they inspire you to dig in and see a connection with Project Based Learning.

"PBL World...was a great experience!! I really appreciated the opportunity to attend the conference and loved both the project slice and the coaching workshops.  I learned the PBL process in a much more in depth manner as we really looked at the PBL teaching practices. This will help me personally as well as a resource in the school." --Gina Phillips, LMS at Century High School

"PBL World…..was a fantastic experience! I am truly thankful for the opportunity to attend the conference. The Slice was probably my favorite part as I was able to examine PBL from a student viewpoint. Alicia was a great presenter and really pushed me to look deeper and think more on the process. I also really enjoyed meeting and working with educators from all over the globe. It was fascinating to hear from other educators on their struggles or successes and their journey to it." --Jennifer Zacher, teacher at Simle Middle School

"PBL World was an amazing learning opportunity and I am so grateful that I was one of the team that was fortunate enough to be part of the PBL World experience.  Through the coaching workshop, I was able to delve deeper into the process of PBL as well as build greater understanding of the Gold Standard elements that are the heart of PBL.  I was able to return with multiple resources that will be utilized this year with BPS teachers.  Because of my PBL World experience, I am better able to meet the PBL needs of my building as well as support PBL at the district level." --Michelle Kuhn, LMS at Solheim Elementary School
"After attending PBL world, I now have a broader perspective on education and a renewed sense of energy regarding PBL. The tremendous effects it can have on students is inspiring. I met and networked with many principals, founders from High Tech High, and other educators who are continuing to challenge the traditional set-up of our schools. The concluding statement on the last day of learning was 'I once thought that PBL was something students could experience; I now understand I owe it to students to ensure they participate and learn through high-quality PBL.' "
--Meagan Sharp, Assistant Principal at Simle Middle School

"Before attending PBL World my understanding of PBL was limited. The time spent attending the PBL for Coaches gave me a rich understanding of the PBL process and how it can help support an engaging classroom environment that increases student achievement. After attending PBL World I feel better prepared to give the teachers I serve more tools to help them on their PBL journey."   --Nicole Szajkowski, Instructional Coach at Myhre Elementary School

 "Through the PBL Slice, I definitely gained some new insight into the PBL process through the eyes of a student. This workshop gave me some ideas and critical questions to ask of myself or other teachers when they are working through a project. I really loved the idea of building rubrics with the students and having their input in establishing 'At Standard' and 'Developing' expectations. We also read a wonderful article, 'How to Get High-Quality Student Work in PBL,' which I found was a wonderful resource for teachers to use during self-reflection of a project. Overall, I loved the experience of both the PBL Slice and the Coaching Workshops. I feel like I walked away with valuable resources that I will be able to apply and share with others!" --Rhiannon Roemmich, teacher at Wachter Middle School

Important Takeaways from Project Slice--Gina Solemsaas Instructional Coach at Legacy High School
  • Part of the PBL process is simmering in ambiguity.
  • It IS organized chaos with paced tasks; it is NOT a “free-for-all”
  • The importance of revisiting the Need To Knows! * Highlight of the Project Slice was when a community expert came in to address the NTKs that we did not have the knowledge to answer!!  MIND BLOWN!
  • Peer Feedback Practice - Small Group Gallery Walk:
  1. Low stakes
  2. Timely - early enough to make changes.
  3. Formative

  • Authentic Audience Presentations as formative.
  • An essential element is Reflection…. Including revisiting the Need to Knows at the end of the project to plan for areas of future learning.

"PBL World was a wonderful learning opportunity.  Project Slice gave me a chance to experience PBL from a learner’s perspective.  It was valuable to actually see the Essential Project Design Elements and success skills   embedded throughout the project. It also gave me more clarity and insight into the planning process involved in designing projects for my students. I appreciate the toolkit provided in the PBL Coaching Workshop.  This will be an excellent resource moving forward with PBL.  It was a great experience collaborating with other educators from across the country and hearing about their PBL journey.  The coaching workshop also gave me an opportunity to reflect on my PBL practices and ways to improve the quality of our projects.  I am excited to share the learning with my colleagues." --Renae Ely, teacher at Liberty Elementary School

As you can see each member of our PBL World 2017 team came away with new learning, useful resources and inspiration to support change within their buildings and our community.

Thursday, September 14, 2017



Collaboration:  the situation of two or more people working together to create or achieve the same thing.   
Let’s break it down:  
  • 2 or more people → team
  • Working together → process
  • Towards shared goals →  purpose

When we think of the epitomy of  collaboration, thoughts often lead to the  Apollo 13.  The Apollo 13 crew trusted each other and worked interdependently for one common goal.   If one person would’ve failed in their role the results would have likely been catastrophic.  

Collaboration is a critical skill for success in all realms of life. We'd like to kick off this year by telling you about a few things that LearnBPS Blog and Twitter will be doing NEW this year to hopefully increase teamwork and collaboration across the district.  

One, we will be blogging and tweeting every week this year!  Please tweet to share your expertise, highlight your successes so we can learn from each other.  Two, will also be taking more a building/local approach to the blog, with LMS’s coordinating stories from each of their respective buildings.  You are all doing great things for students in your schools!  Share them with your LMS and offer to collaborate for the blog.   Get Collaboratin’ and join in on Twitter Tuesday's @ 8:30!   #learnbps

Daphne Heid & Misti Werle