Tuesday, May 15, 2012

CBL and Common Core K-5-What I need to do?

I once heard a speaker say, “Our schools should have an academic focus not a project focus.” This is a statement I full heartedly agree with and due to the integrated model of literacy feel that Common Core Standards also supports. With that said, just because projects are present does not mean that the academics have taken a backseat. On the contrary, they are as front and center as ever before and Challenge Based Learning (CBL) is an excellent example of Common Core in action. It is important that with both CBL and Common Core we, as educators, focus on the process rather than the solution, which means our role, as educators, will need to change. We will need to make the shift from being less of a dispenser of information to being more of a guide and lead researcher. As a lead researcher, we will need to be prepared for many conversations and coaching sessions during our CBL challenges. Most of our conversations, will result in mini-
lessons on the hows and whys of doing quality research. To raise students that are career and college ready we need to rethink not only how work is being done, but how and when lessons (or mini-lessons) occur. Throughout the CBL process the educator, that is acting as a guide, is giving instruction through mini-lessons when a student need arises or when a standard fits into the purpose hand. Since Common Core K-5 is chalked full of standards that focus on strategies rather than specific content incorporating them into a CBL challenge becomes quite natural. However, this is going to require educators to become very familiar with the Common Core so that when learning opportunities arise they are more than ready to address both the standard and the need.
Honestly, I believe that real learning takes place in the process and due to that belief I feel that, as educators, we should not be doing anything for students that they can do for themselves. When involved in CBL challenges students are not only involved in the process, but are holding the majority of the labor responsibility. They are no longer waiting for the answer, but going out to discover their own answers. In my observations within our CBL Challenges engagement has been very high and both research studies done by New Media Consortium have shown that as well. Living out this type of engagement Common Core Standards K-5 are not just covered, but honed as well. 

With that said, I must be better at documenting the learning that is taking place and the progress each child is making. What mini-lessons need to be taught? When do these mini-lessons need to be taught? How am I going to document these lessons? What is being used to document learning and mastery of standards? Basically, if I believe that the learning is truly taking place in the process then where is my proof. Maybe, the fact that I am asking myself these questions is part of the process and that is where my learning is right now. Which leaves me the summer to read up and review research on authentic assessment and portfolios (ePortfolios). As well as, working on a lesson plan template that will do a better job of meeting our needs. I suppose what has been said is true, "One can't do better, until she knows better."


  1. Great post. I have found that when first introducing project based learning, my students at first freak out but then buckle down and produce some amazing things that I could not envision. Learning takes place and there is evidence to back it up without the need for a bubble test!

  2. First of all, thank you for your comment. It is always really nice to get some feedback. I totally agree with your statement that the evidence is there that learning is taking place, but am also feeling the need to do a better job of being transparent so others see that learning as well. Truly, feel this burden of reorganizing and documentation belongs to me and not my students. Although it will effect them my goal will be to only add elements that will deepen their understanding. I am looking at some sort of portfolio (most likely ePortfolio) system where there is some room for self, peer and ultimately my evaluations/reflections. Feel that a ton of higher order thinking skills could be built into a piece like that.