When I saw the schedule of sessions here at SXSWEdu this year I instantly saw the trade mark “8 Essential Elements” of PBL and knew it had to be from one of the incredible members of the National Faculty with BIE.org. And I was right. It was their nearly-famous (at least in PBL circles) Alfred Solis.
The room was packed and I wasn’t surprised. When I mention I teach with PBL and that I’m associated with Manor TX, people always want to talk PBL with me. Educators are very interested in PBL. They want to know how to do it, why to do it, and whether they even should do it.
Alfred really got things rolling with some great music and some nice SWAG. But we weren’t here for listening to cool music we wanted to know about PBL. He didn’t waste any time. He immediately had us pondering the number 1,000,000 and when 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2.
As an intro to PBL Alfred showed us the video on Public Arts from the Edutopia website. He followed that by a listing of the 8 Elements: Significant Content, 21st Century Skills, In-Depth Inquiry, Driving Question, Need to Know, Voice & Choice, Revision & Reflection, and Public Audience.
Once he had given a brief explanation of each he rolled into another video of a project from the Edutopia library and he asked us to evaluate the project based upon the 8 elements. This gave us a chance to actively engage in the presentation
With barely 5 minutes left he opened it up to questions. There were some great questions but even more interesting were the number of audience members who stayed to engage him in conversation.
About an hour after the session ended I talked with Alfred and he was still continuing conversations over in the speaker’s Green Room. PBL is a very hot topic these days and Alfred Solis provides a great presentation of the basics of this vehicle for instruction.
Note from author, Chris Fancher: I am an Instructional Coach for PBL at Decker Middle School in Manor Texas. Prior to this, I taught at Manor New Technology High School. Manor is a small town just East of Austin and Manor ISD is a progressive district implementing PBL throughout K-12 while pursuing 1:1 technology. As a New Tech school we are a member of the New Technology Network which is a group of over 90 schools from around the country who teach with Problem Based Instruction.