Dig Deeper with Problem-based Learning – Full day

Dig Deeper with
Problem-based Learning
A presentation deck for training educators on the
Project MASH problem-based learning process
Full day version
Contribute your ideas to this
quick group brainstorm!
List your favorite places in the local community.
What do you like about them?
What don’t you like? What potential problems
are they facing?
Today’s explorations
Gain an understanding of problem-based learning.
Experience problem-based learning first-hand by
examining opportunities to take action in the
Present findings to the group, then discuss how
to implement problem-based learning with
students and share practices with other
What is problem-based learning?
Problem-based learning gives students the
opportunity to identify and examine a real problem,
then work together to address the problem by
mobilizing resources and advocating for a cause.
Problem-based learning provides a clear process
(as well as the tools and resources necessary) for
introducing meaningful project-based learning.
The problem-based learning
Problem-based learning is interdisciplinary.
Students find natural connections between subject
areas, similar to real world work experiences.
Problem-based learning builds student agency,
independence, and persistence through a
student-driven process of real world problem
Problem-based learning is civically charged.
By taking on local issues, students have
opportunities to raise their voices, get
involved, and positively impact the larger
Problem-based learning is one of several
teaching strategies that inform the educational
content and experiences available on Project
MASH, a social network for learning.
Project MASH is a social network for educators,
students, and the organizations that serve them.
On Project MASH you’ll find student activities and
projects that rely on design thinking—or citizen
science and other unique teaching strategies.
Project MASH also includes professional
development resources and support.
A problem well put is half solved.
The problem-based learning mindset
Today’s goal
By the day’s end you will have
research, evidence, and an action-plan
for a real community problem, as well
as concrete ideas for classroom
Project MASH activities
For today’s session on problem-based learning, we’ll borrow
from activities available for your students on Project MASH,
including among others:
What’s the Problem?
the Numbers
Convince Me!
STEP Brainstorm
TIME 15 minutes
GOAL Begin thinking about global issues that are of interest to
you. There’s a global problem that you care about. What is
 Review this list of global issues. Which ones do you
care most about? Why?
• Hunger
• Sustainability
Climate change • Poverty
• Human rights
• Population
• Women’s rights
Brainstorm (cont.)
TIME 20 minutes
GOAL Now think about local issues that are of interest to you.
There’s a local problem that you care about. What is it?
 Review the opening brainstorm listing global
issues you care about.
 Identify connections between places in your
community and the global issues you care about.
 Choose one to focus on.
30 minutes
Determine needs and get specific about the
problem by conducting a quick survey.
 Identify a target audience.
 Develop three-four simple questions based
on your topic and perceived problem.
 Distribute the survey widely.
Define (cont.)
10 minutes
Determine what your data is telling you.
 Do a quick sort to analyze your findings.
 Look for common themes.
 What does the data tell you about the
problem? What needs or issues are most
Define (cont.)
10 minutes
Develop a hypothesis. A hypothesis should
give a reason why your specific problem is
happening in one short sentence. For
example: People would exercise more if
our community had more walking trails.
STEP Field studies
TIME 60 minutes
GOAL Test your hypothesis through data collection. Try the following:
 Visiting the site and talking to people who live or work
 Documenting evidence of the problem (through
observation, photos, videos, etc.).
 Interviewing experts working on the problem & citizens
impacted by the problem.
 Conducting a larger, more focused survey.
 Online research.
Field studies tips
 Identify data collection methods: a notebook,
spreadsheet, digital tool, photographs, a trash
 Divide and conquer. Determine roles (interviewer,
data collector, photographer, etc.).
 Collect more than one type of data (for example
physical evidence and student surveys).
TIME 10 minutes
Sort and analyze your findings. Do they confirm or
change your hypothesis?
 What will you do with the data you’ve
 Is your end goal raising awareness, getting
others involved or creating systemic
STEP Plan (cont.)
TIME 5 minutes
Make a plan based on your findings.
 What will each team member do?
 Who can help you? (experts, organizations,
 What will be the best way to reach your end
STEP Create
TIME 60 minutes
GOAL Create a visual, short presentation, artwork, video
or other creative way to share your findings as a
call to action.
 Portray your message & purpose clearly.
 Consider how this will impact or persuade
your audience.
20 minutes
GOAL Present your work!
 What is your message?
 How might it be amplified, i.e. published?
 How might it be used to spur others to
The product is not the end result of problembased learning. How you SHARE the product and
what others DO with it is!
Project Share
TIME 30 minutes
Working with your team, create a visualization
for how problem-based learning:
 Fosters student engagement
 Addresses specific content areas
 Builds skills, i.e. 21st century skills
Common Core Connections
15 minutes
Working with your team, discuss how today’s activity aligns to these Common
Core standards. How might implementing this activity with students further meet
the standard?
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more
sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating
understanding of the subject under investigation.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and
supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning
and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task,
purpose, and audience.
 CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and
visual displays of data to express information and enhance
understanding of presentations.
Reflection & Discussion:
TIME 10 minutes
What role did technology play in today’s project?
Think Beyond Today:
 What additional possibilities might exist in an
extended version of this?
 How is this role distinct from the simple
notion of “technology integration”?
Reflection & Discussion:
TIME 10 minutes
How can assessment:
 Document the process, and not just the
 Promote self-reflection & peer-feedback
 Address skills, habits and mindsets in addition
to content?
Want more?
Visit Project MASH for tool kits and resources that
align to problem-based learning and these other
teaching strategies, including design thinking,
citizen science, making & tinkering, and more.
On Project MASH you’ll discover activities and projects
that incorporate problem-based learning and other unique
approaches to teaching and learning.
What’s the Problem?
Ask: The Art of
Convince Me!

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