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IUPUI faculty taking part in annual Project-Based Learning Institute


INDIANAPOLIS — Faculty members from the Indiana University School of Education at IUPUI will be a key part of an annual summer workshop that is building more capacity and expertise for “project-based learning.” The fifth annual Learning by Doing: Project-Based Learning Institute is June 24 to 27 at the Chapel Hill 7th and 8th Grade Center in Indianapolis.

The four-day event is sponsored by the School of Education, the University of Indianapolis and its Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning, and the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township.

The intensive workshop provides an opportunity for teachers and administrators to delve deeply into project-based learning, or PBL, which requires students to go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem or challenge. Rigorous projects help students learn key academic content and practice 21stscentury skills such as collaboration, communication and critical thinking. The techniques are a way to engage students in content by placing subject matter in a “real-world” context and emphasizing skills of collaboration and teamwork with classmates.

During the institute, participating teachers and administrators are expected to learn PBL by doing it. Facilitators will guide them through the process of working with colleagues to develop a project. At the end of the four days, participants present the project and get feedback.

“We’re going to have roaming facilitators who will come to the particular group and address issues that have come up,” said Joy Seybold, chair of secondary teacher education and coordinator for the Transition to Teaching Program at IUPUI. “So if some in the group want more information about how to group students for PBL teams, then there are some experts who are available who will come and work specifically with them on that topic.”

The facilitators are all Indiana teachers who have gone through the institute before and have become proficient at PBL techniques. “These are people who are in the trenches doing the work,” Seybold said.

Seybold said organizers from the Project-Based Learning Institute have been meeting with organizers of the southern Indiana-based PBL Academy and northeast Indiana-based PBL Conference to coordinate efforts on certifying PBL teachers.

“We came together and developed a PBL certification process,” Seybold said. “We have piloted it this year, and we will announce more details at the institute.”

A special information session Wednesday will provide more details to interested teachers. Applicants will be able to start the certification process in August in time to earn certification by January.

Institute organizers are also developing an online resource for PBL teachers in Indiana. A new site being built through the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s PRISM Project will contain lesson plans and other resources to help teachers implement PBL in their own classrooms.

“Teachers in Indiana can go to that site and pull up projects that have been used in Indiana schools with Indiana standards and Indiana students,” Seybold said.

In all, Seybold said the new certification process and resources show how the institute has helped build PBL culture in the state.

“I feel that we have developed a new network where people are, in various stages, using PBL as an instructional model and they are committed to it,” she said. “They see the value in the hands-on learning, project design. They understand how this helps kids connect with content.”

In addition to the intensive hands-on sessions, attendees will hear from Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz on Monday. More information on the conference is available on the institute website.