PBL and Common Core


  • Evaluate lessons/units for the 21st century learning environment and Common Core
  • Explore service learning, and experience how to set up a service learning PBL
  • Create PBL (or 21st Century Unit/Lessons) to address rigor and relevance in standards


Build Background Knowledge with PBL

Connect Prior Knowledge of Common Core, PBL, and 21st century learning

  • Connecting Common Core and 21st century learning:

    1. Review this list of 21st century skills.
    2. What do you notice?
    3. How are Common Core and 21st century learning connected?

  • Connecting Common Core and PBL directions:

    1. Peanut Butter: Half the class will read, The Common Core is the "what." PBL is the "how." Then discuss the main points with your small group.
    2. Jelly: The other half of the class will read, "How can I design an interdisciplinary project?" Then discuss the main points with your small group.
    3. After we've processed what we read with our colleagues, create Peanut Butter & Jelly partners. Share and compare ideas with your new partner.
    4. Then synthesize by answering this question, "Why does Common Core and PBL fit together?"

Connect Prior Knowledge of Awesome Learning

  • Think of your most successful lesson/unit. What made it successful?

    • Small Group Activity:
      1. Share with your group.
      2. On sticky notes, list common traits that made it successful. List only one trait per sticky note. (For example, It was Standards based." Or, "Kids related to it."
    • Whole Group Activity: Sticky Note Sort

  • Self-Reflect using the Learning Activity Checklist--What was present in your own lesson?

  • Closure: Debrief and discuss in group.

Using the Learning Activity Checklist to Evaluate Lessons/Units

  • Debrief:
    • What did we notice about the standards? Engagement? Problem-based? How did the technology enhance academic learning?

Integrating Service Learning

1. What are the issues or needs in my community about the topic? (We used the topics of environment, crime, poverty, education, ...).
  • Individuals silently share their thoughts/feelings about the topics by writing their ideas on the posters around the room.
  • This serves as a needs assessment.

2. Sit at the table with the topic you are most interested in discussing.
  • Decide on the big idea or area we want to focus on regarding our topic. Circle it.

3. Question Stems:
  • On the next poster, place your main idea/issue in the middle.
  • Write these question stems off of the main idea: who, what, where, when, why, and how.
  • Tip: While conversations jump to what we want to do with it, let's focus on just asking the questions right now.
  • Write as many questions you can about the topic using those question stems.

4. Curriculum map:
  • Create a bubble map with the topic/issue in the middle, then write the different content areas around it. For example, write language arts, social studies, science, math, foreign language, the arts, etc. as a bubble map.
  • Brainstorm ideas of products they could create for the different content areas about the topic.

5. Research teams:
  • Break into research teams by types of questions.
    • Who team. How team. Why team. What team. Where team. When team.
  • Facilitator tip -- focus on:
    • What? -- What do we have? (Information wise.)
    • So what? -- Why does it matter? (Relevance.)
    • Now what? -- What do we do with the information now? (Create a plan/solution.)

6. Solution:
  • Empower the students with service learning and to make an impact on the community.
  • Allow the students to reflect and come up with their own solutions. The students must come up with the solutions, not the teacher. However, the teacher can help them go in one direction or another.

7. Share and celebrate:
  • Hold an event to share with others.
  • Reflect.
  • Celebrate their learning.
  • Is there anyone else they can share with even after the final event?

  • Think about Media Saves the Beach. How did the project start? How did the teachers hook the kids? From the process we went through today, what do you think the San Diego kids did in their classes?
  • How does service learning address Common Core?
  • How could you implement service learning in your classroom?

Lesson Improvement Template

  • Let's think about your content area now.

  • Open "Lesson Improvement Template" from Google Apps templates. (Click herefor directions on how to download from templates.)
    1. Task

      • Authentic Purpose
      • Rigorous, Relevant, & Relationships
      • Open-ended, with more than one "right" answer
      • Complex, and not easily solved
      • Tips:
        1. Open Ended Scenario
          1. Who? (Audience)
          2. When?
          3. What?
          4. Why?
        2. Essential Questions
        3. Does it pass the "Engaging Task" Test from the Learning Activity Checklist?
        4. Does it pass the "Problem-Based Task" Test from the Learning Activity Checklist?
    2. Standards

    3. Assessment

      1. Focus on the Framework.
        • What can be evaluated as evidence of learning? -- How will you know learning took place?
      2. Return to create the Rubric in detail later.
    4. Directions

    5. Resources

      • List what will be needed.
      • It's okay (even good) to give them choices with the technology.
      • Remember to finish the Assessment Plan.


  • Discussion
    • When you leave here, what are your next steps?
    • Who can help with this process?


Other Ideas

  1. Reinventing the Biography(Be sure to follow links to other examples and information as time allows)
  2. Student Choice... Tech Integration -- and a lesson idea on Conservation
  3. Banned in America!!! Video