Benefits of Using Digital Planners With Project Based Learning

Do you have trouble staying organized during a project based learning unit? It's so easy to leave out important elements of a unit. In this blog post, I'm going to share tips on using my project based learning digital planner. This planner can guide you through any PBL unit. Plus, you can download your own FREE digital planner.

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When I first began implementing PBL in my classroom, I had no idea what I was doing. My students were not focused because I wasn't organized. My lessons were planned day by day and my students weren't mastering the skills they needed to learn. By using the PBL essential elements as my guide, I was able to make sure my students were developing critical thinking skills, working effectively in collaborative groups, and learning cross-curricular skills. 

Instead of writing out my plans for a PBL project, I developed a digital planning notebook. It includes the essential elements and many other details included in a PBL unit. Teachers use the colorful Google Slides to add notes, dates, activities, questions, and more.

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The notebook is divided into sections:

  • Project
  • Calendar
  • Standards
  • 21st Century Skills
  • Inquiry
  • Resources
  • Activities
  • Assessment
  • Presentation
  • Evaluation

The Project

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This lays the foundation for the unit. Teachers will write a description of the project and develop the driving question and the essential questions. This is the area in which teachers will use student input. The slides can be projected on the whiteboard for class input. Or, teachers can divide students into teams to develop the driving question of the project. They can use the template for questions they may have about the project.

The Calendar

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It's important for teachers and the administration to have a visual overview of the calendar. You want to have an idea of how long it will take to complete the project, important school dates and holidays, when to schedule field trips, speakers, presentations, etc. I've provided a yearly calendar, monthly calendar, and weekly calendar.

Standards and Skills

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I've provided templates for standards or grade level skills you need to cover. This can include Common Core Standards, state standards, and district objectives. Just duplicate the template if you need more space. There are 11 21st Century Skills. Select the ones you will implement and how you will use them. Project Based Learning is cross-curricular so you will cover several subject areas. This may include other teachers such as art, science, and social studies.

Inquiry and Resources

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How will your students research the project? What is the problem and what steps will the students use to solve the problem? What resources will they use?
  • Apps
  • Websites
  • Books
  • Fieldtrips
  • Speakers
  • Other ideas for the project

Activities and Assessment

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Design activities that will best cover the cross-curricular skills and the project. Plus, you want to make sure that you focus on the needs of the students. How will you differentiate? What types of informal and formal assessments will you use? I love using Choice Boards during a PBL unit. This gives students an opportunity for voice and choice.

Presentations and Evaluation

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How will your students present their findings? Who will they make their presentations to? How will you evaluate their final projects? I highly recommend using rubrics during a PBL unit. Include your students as you evaluate their progress. They can use self-reflection journal writing and self-assessment rubrics throughout the project.

Additional Ideas and Notes

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Try keeping a journal for yourself during the project. This can help you improve future PBL units. What other ideas do you have for your project? Because these slide templates are digital, they can be saved for future use. 

Other PBL Resources:

Download the planner image

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