PREPARING AN ENTIRE DISTRICT TO SUCCESSFULLY IMPLEMENT PBL
Encinitas Union School District
EUSD was very interested in bringing project-based learning to its classrooms. However, teachers had varying training, familiarity and experience with it, making implementation a challenge. Teachers sought guidance and support to bring engaging experiences to the classroom, but principals expressed concerns about having the appropriate knowledge base or resources to do so successfully. Furthermore, any PBL efforts would need to be tailored to the district’s specific initiatives (Design Thinking, Question Formulation Technique, Dual Immersion Programs), as well as teachers’ specific needs. How could they empower their teachers to put high quality PBL into action in a united way that would strengthen teacher skills, gain valuable administrative support, and accomplish district mandates?
First, we discussed unique concerns of the district with the EUSD’s Assistant Superintendent and Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs), to create the most effective, customized solution. Based on those conversations, we quickly prepared a three-pronged approach:
- To assure alignment and to provide principals with the tools to support teachers, we would first provide a 2 hour training for principals sharing an overview of what teachers would be learning, ensuring that the whole district was in harmony.
- We would offer robust “PBL 1.0” , 4 hour trainings.
- We would also include three distinct 90 minute-workshops (“Launching Student Inquiry”, “Scaffolding the Prototyping Process”, “Teaching Empathy”), tailored to the district’s top priorities.
Together, these workshops would offer a comprehensive overview of PBL to the district’s teachers, while providing a common understanding of PBL from which to work. At the same time, we would equip principals to provide teachers the support they craved. We also structured the schedule so workshops would be available at varying times, making it easier for teachers to attend the time/format that worked best for them (including after school, over vacation, or during school days), and maximize involvement.
- Approximately 10 principals and 150 district teachers voluntarily attended the offered workshops.
- Principals gained a firm grasp on PBL and were able to provide teachers with direction as they implemented PBL across the district.
- Principals and teachers were aligned in their PBL efforts.
- Principals were assured that teachers received PBL training specifically tailored to the district’s academic mandates.
- Teachers received valuable, in-depth instruction on PBL, regardless of their level of prior familiarity with it.
- Teachers attended live workshops, allowing for in-person questions and attentive, in-person training on PBL.
- Teachers were equipped to address district priorities while implementing PBL.
- Teachers received a wealth of frameworks and resources to plan high quality projects for their classrooms.
- Teachers were able to ask questions and gain active knowledge of how to prepare PBL curriculum for their classrooms going forward.
- District teachers and administrators received ongoing access to a customized library of resources provided by CraftEd for their use in project planning.
- District leadership and teachers share high enthusiasm PBL and have a clear path to bring it to classrooms across Encinitas.
The workshops received extremely strong feedback. Teacher enthusiasm was so high that the district requested another set of three PBL 1.0 trainings for additional staff. Principals have noted great momentum back at school sites from teachers who attended and now are invigorated with new ideas and approaches to learning. In addition to expanding classroom experiences, district-wide morale is up. Many principals have already requested site-specific support to continue project advancement and to enable their teachers to move forward with PBL 2.0.
“Encinitas Union School District sought out Jenny and CraftEd to help us take our project based learning to a new level. I can honestly say every participant from principals, to teachers to Teachers On Special Assignment grew in their understanding, confidence and toolbox surrounding design thinking and project based learning. I particularly appreciated the modeling of research based practices in every session! I feel like our work with Jenny has helped to re-energize our team, as well as improve the quality of our PBL units!”
-Andrée Grey, Assistant Superintendent Educational Services, Encinitas Union School District
Empowering Teachers to Bring High Quality PBL to Classrooms Sooner than Later
Lake Elementary, Vista Unified School District
The principal of Lake Elementary was eager to leverage the NGSS roll out and the rise of project-based learning (PBL) in creating more meaningful learning experiences at the school. Although the school’s teachers were familiar with PBL on some level, they required more personalized support and specific guidance to get started planning their first projects for introduction. How could they efficiently train teaching staff at all grade levels to confidently implement PBL?
As always, our first step was to discuss the unique concerns and considerations for the school, to develop a customized training solution. From there, we prepared to dive in immediately:
- We would deliver hands-on training for approximately 30 teachers, assisting them in designing their first PBL project for execution.
- We would schedule two (2) hours with each grade level’s teacher during their collaborative planning time, over the course of 6 days.
- The Principal observed the impact of brief, effective workshops that strengthened the teaching staff within time and budget constraints.
- The Principal noted the rise in self-assurance of the teaching staff with relation to PBL.
- Teachers each received highly personalized attention in private workshops, addressing their interests, concerns and curriculum goals.
- Teachers completed their first PBL project plans under professional guidance.
- Teachers developed projects that were interdisciplinary in nature but driven by Next Generation Science Standards first, further supported by Common Core ELA and Math standards.
- Teachers received assessment tools, project calendars, and access to an additional library of numerous additional resources to support them in bringing PBL to their classrooms.
- Teachers provided overwhelmingly positive feedback that they felt fully supported, and had the complete resources they required to roll out their first project. Some teachers said this was the first success they had felt with Professional Development.
- Teachers were thrilled that the administration had provided attentive, personalized training for them.
- Teachers reported high levels of confidence as they approached PBL
- Teachers immediately implemented PBL; each rolled out their first project in winter of 2017/18!
“Jenny is a legit SUPERSTAR on our campus. Bringing her depth of knowledge and amazing ability to share her expertise, Jenny listens with care and facilitates powerful, productive collaboration. With her leadership, we’ve efficiently moved leaps and bounds because of her dedication to empathy, connected communities and thoughtful ideation. We will continue our work with Jenny because it matters for kids. They are benefitting from a beautiful change in their learning experience.”
Everyone at Lake Via Krista Berntsen, Principal, Lake Elementary
Turning An Entire School System on to PBL for the Long-Term
Aviara Oaks Middle School
Aviara Oaks is a huge school, with a staff of 45 teachers for grades 6-8. With such a large team, the teaching staff naturally featured a wide range of personalities and approaches to curriculum development. When the school board requested that each school do one PBL project in 2016/2017, Aviara Oaks struggled with how to adapt to this new teaching paradigm. How would the school create a structure and resources to enable its large teaching staff to put PBL into practice promptly?
In order to create an effective action plan for Aviara Oaks to engage its students with PBL our plan would enable a comprehensive introduction of PBL
- We would work with the teaching staff during their after school professional development (PD) sessions throughout the 2016-2018 school years.
- We would provide a variety of PD sessions, including two 4-hour “Back to School” professional development trainings.
- We would include 90 minute workshops throughout the year during PD days, with topics ranging from “Assessment 2.0” to “Exhibiting Student Work”, to dive deeper on relevant topics.
- We would deliver 1:1 project coaching during planning times to guide them in planning school projects and preparing for implementation
- We would offer steadily available support; we established regular phone communications with the principal, allowing for guidance and debriefs as needed.
- We offered summer availability, meeting with teachers for 1:1 coaching as needed, to assure inclusion of as many teachers as possible.
- Aviara’s teachers took advantage of the PD opportunities-we provided 7 workshops over 2 years
- Teachers quickly grasped concepts, finding PBL implementation to be straightforward, manageable, and inspiring.
- Principal observed increased staff engagement and enthusiasm.
- Principal noted successful implementation of PBL across all classrooms within the requested time frame.
- Teachers expressed strong appreciation for the consistent presence and accessibility of the PBL training team, and for CraftEd’s familiarity with the unique considerations of AOMS.
- Teachers received collaboration and 1:1 personal guidance as they planned fully-integrated, interdisciplinary projects for the first time.
- Teachers were trained, inclusive of all content areas/classrooms.
- Teachers received access to a library of supportive resources and services to continue to further the work.
- Upon request, CraftEd has maintained an ongoing coaching relationship with the school for two years – and counting!
- The school, which serves 1,117 students, now features at least 2 PBL projects/year in each class!
- The school has requested additional sessions to guide teaching staff in advancing PBL into third and additional projects.
“Jenny’s work with our team over two years has provided a consistent touchstone and built an atmosphere of trust to support our development of quality PBL experiences for our students. When I have teachers coming to me regularly asking for collaboration time with Jenny to help push their work further, I know that we are onto something good.”
-Bryan Brockett, Ed. D., Principal, Aviara Oaks Middle School
CraftED is helping to deliver deeper learning experiences to students in classrooms across the country. But don’t take our word for it, hear it directly from educators like yourself!
“Jenny’s passion for developing professional learning opportunities that not only push your thinking and growth, but also empowering and inspiring, are contagious. I am a big advocate on starting with the “learner”, and moving backwards from there, and Jenny has shown a commitment to make that a focus in the experiences she is creating for those that she serves.”
-George Couros, Author Innovator’s Mindset
“Jenny deftly crafted custom curriculum, transforming DreamUp’s expertise in space-based data and images into cutting-edge, standard-compliant engaging STEM lessons. This unique final product is both easy-to-use for educators and exciting for students. Jenny was a joy to work with throughout the development process. We are eager to continue to collaborate with her to create more products to inspire and empower the next generation of innovators and engineers.”
-Carie Lemack, CEO, Dream UP Space
“Jenny Pieratt was instrumental in shaping our school. She used innovative strategies to challenge our staff to look inward and reflect deeply on our teaching practices. She aided in cultivating a culture of critique at our school site that has been foundational for deeper learning. Her guidance has made us a better school.”
-Randy Hollenkamp, Bulldog Tech, San Jose, CA
“Jen was an incredible coach and mentor to myself and staff as we opened our new school (Central Coast New Tech). Her extensive knowledge of effective instruction and creating deeper learning opportunities for students has significantly contributed to our initial and ongoing success for staff and students.”
-Dan Neff, Executive Director of 21st Century Learning, Lucia Mar School District
“Using the Problem Solving Protocol from CraftEd helped me as a facilitator of project based learning, manage the ‘messy middle’ of the a project phase much more easily. It allowed me to scaffold skills of professional communication, collaboration, and problem solving with my high school students who are working on an integrated project with content and teammates across multiple classes.”
-Jennifer Isbell, High School Teacher, Central Coast New Tech, Nipomo, CA
“Jennifer helped our team develop a new course of study. She listened to our unique needs and helped us write a curriculum to support each learner. The materials she produced integrated multiple subject areas, project-based learning, and 21st Century skills. She is professional and even completed our project ahead of schedule. I highly recommend CraftED Curriculum for creative and high quality curricular materials.”
-Erin Ashley, Director of IPSO Schools, Marin County
“I used CraftED Curriculum’s Lesson “Collecting data in the field” and combined it with their lesson on infographics for our “Sugar Project”. This process was really engaging and students were pleased with their results. Many of the final infographics were very impressive, and came out better than expected.”
-Kate Therriault, 6th grade Teacher, Ada Harris, Cardiff, CA
“I used the “my toolkit” strategy. I found it can be used to fit a variety of grade levels and assignments. I liked that I was able to modify and change it to fit my students needs. It also required my students to think outside the box and challenge themselves.”
-Liz Anglin, 7th grade Teacher, Diegueno Middle School, Encinitas, CA
“My students became very empowered with the learning strategy “Friendly Feedback”. I found many embraced the language of peer feedback as a result of the steps outlined. Those receiving the feedback also became more aware of their work and began to feel more comfortable with editing their work to make it better. My students gained a lot of knowledge and tools to be able to successfully conference with peers. Some students are now even using this language independently during writing workshop. Overall, I was very happy with the entire strategy.”