Preparing An Entire District to Implement PBL

  • The School: Encinitas Union School District

  • The Challenge:
    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?

  • The Solution:
    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.

  • The Results:

    • 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