Driving Questions and Reflections

The driving question helps focus the problem based learning project.  It helps focus the project for both the teacher and the student (Miller 2015).  Additionally, the driving questions helps learners understand the purpose of the project.  The driving question is not easy to answer.  It requires planning, research, and communication in order to present the action developed by the team. The driving question gives students a focus for the project without giving them the answers.

The driving question “How can you teach compassion for children?” focuses the project for the teacher and the learners.  The subquestions allow learners to generate ideas that will assist them in their final product.  Students will have to determine what compassion is and how it can be taught.  Additionally, as the final lesson will be taught to first and second graders, the learners must determine what methodologies will work best for that grade level.  Students will analyze where compassion can be seen on a daily basis and how that action illustrates compassion.  The subquestions will assist the students in creating that final product for answering the driving question.  By first creating the driving question, the subquestions make it easy to create and implement the entire unit.

For the visual product, I have decided to use Padlet.  This particular Padlet allows users to add links, pictures, and thoughts about the driving question.   Additionally, students can comment on one another’s posts about any given topic.  Students can work collaboratively within their own groups and comment on the work of other groups.  This will allow for true collaboration while working on the final product.


Miller, A. (2015). How to Write Effective Driving Questions for Project-Based Learning. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/pbl-how-to-write-driving-questions-andrew-miller


PBL Reflection and Driving Question

I recently completed my first thorough session researching examples of project based learning activities.  I found quite a few solid examples of PBLs.  The examples I found have given me a stronger understanding of what a PBL is supposed to look like.  While reading novels, the students and I make connections to the text constantly.  That is a natural part of being an English teacher and a learner in an English classroom.  Project based learning seems to take what I already do and expand upon it.  Once I have a stronger understanding of PBLs, I know that I will incorporate them when it is meaningful and manageable.

At this point, I do have an idea for my project.  I teach two different classes.  One course reads To Kill a Mockingbird, and the other course reads The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  Both novels deal with issues related to race, economic status, and compassion. I am currently looking at picking the first idea. I have two ideas at this point:

  1. How do you teach compassion to children?
  2. Something about race and the judicial system in America.

With the first idea, I was thinking students could look at the importance of teaching compassion to children in order to raise respectful, compassionate adults.  Students would then create a way to teach the importance of compassion to first or second grade students at a local elementary school.

I am unsure how I would phrase the second question.  I want students to explore the role race can play throughout the judicial process in America.  Students can research communities, crime rates, and prison sentences.  Students could compare data in order to create their thoughts.  They would then create a product on their findings and what changes they think could be made to the system.  Again, this topic is still a work in progress.

Here is the link to the PBL template that I will be editing throughout the course.

Project Based Learning Ideas for 542

I am struggling with my idea for my project based learning experience.  I am looking at doing project based learning with either Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian or Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I want to do some sort of PBL with respect to the greater themes or ideas in the novel. I teach English to academically at risk ninth grade students.  I want to pick something that will be meaningful to them and relate to the unit of study.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Ideas:

state of education in low income areas (disparities among schools in different areas-can it be fixed?)

The treatment of Indigenous People

To Kill a Mockingbird Ideas:

Justice system in America (problems and solutions)

Teaching compassion to children

Ways to better the community

The state of education idea, the ways to better the community idea, and the justice system idea could apply to both novels.