Blog Archives

Project-Based Learning: Doing It Right!

gtchat 09122017 PBL

This week it was a pleasure to welcome #gtchat Advisor and long-time friend of our chat, Ginger Lewman, to discuss project-based learning. Ginger is a popular keynote and presenter at gifted and education conferences around the world. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak, it will be an experience to remember.

The benefits of project-based learning are extensive and especially good for gifted and talented students. It is a driver for critical thinking, collaboration and innovation. Project-based learning can spark creativity and develop problem solving skills as well as provide deeper, more meaningful learning for students.

“Soft skills and emotional intelligence can be a struggle for some gifted and talented students. Project-based learning helps them grow in a safe environment. Students get to work in areas of strength and interest bringing interests. Good for all students, but essential to untapped potential.”                                                                             ~ Ginger Lewman

Teachers and students are  the primary stakeholders and beneficiaries in the pedagogical shift to project-based learning. Students are now in the driver’s seat and  the teacher is the facilitator.  To make the shift work well, teachers must be open to the democratization of their classrooms; be willing to open up their own thinking to criticism. Students should realize efficacy in their efforts; empowered to lead rather than follow. Parents, too, are stakeholders when they seek to hold the system accountable for authentic learning by becoming involved.

How does an educator design and implement quality project-based learning? They need to understand that it’s a steep learning curve for all involved at the beginning. ‘Planning sessions must focus on long-term sustainability instead of a just one-off workshop.’ (TeachThought)

“Project-based learning can be a gateway-drug for seeing students’ strengths, interests, and talents. AND for recognizing a NEED for something MORE.”                                                                              ~ Ginger Lewman

Teachers must balance project-based learning with testing, accountability, curriculum and pacing. They need to begin to think differently about testing and accountability; learning to think trumps content every time. Today, teaching is going under some fundamental changes requiring a lot of soul searching about outcomes and authenticity.

What does quality feedback look like and how do you assess the success of project-based learning? High quality project-based learning leads to the creation of a product such as a display, performance, or construction. Assessments include peer and self-assessment, are both formative and summative, develop content and success skills,  as well as process and products. (Getting Smart)

You can take project-based learning to the next level with more sophisticated project design and assessment. Self-reflection completes a quality project-based learning  experience through journaling, presentation and/or group discussion. Performance tasks should reflect competency by demonstrating knowledge and skills. The projects will show authentic learning including student choice and voice. A transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


PBL and LifePractice PBL

Ginger Lewman (website)

About Ginger Lewman

STEAMmaker Camps

7 Questions to Guide Your PBL Implementation Plan

4 Things All Project-Based Learning Teachers Should Do

Using Project-Based Learning to Flip Bloom’s Taxonomy for Deeper Learning

Does Your Teaching Have the 4 Categories of High-Quality PBL?

Project-Based Learning Is Here to Stay: Let’s Make Sure It’s High Quality

Preparing Students for a Project-Based World

How I Connect Students Through Project-Based Learning

Don’t just say it. Do it! Motivation & PBL

PBL: Navigating Timelines & Curriculum Maps

So Your Kids’ PBL Work Sucks? 8 Ways to Improve It!

PBL is Here to Stay: Let’s Make Sure It’s High Quality (Part 1)

PBL is Here to Stay: Let’s Make Sure It’s High Quality (Part 2)

Sprite’s Site: Grey Sneakers

Project Based Learning, Preparing Students for the Work Force of the Future

PBL and Special Student Populations

Motivating for Mastery: It Starts with a Simple Question

Essential Components for LifePractice PBL Planning (pdf)

Cybraryman’s Project-Based Learning Page

ESSDACK Education Products

3 Ingredients for Assessing Learning in the PBL Classroom

Your Rubric is a Hot Mess; Here’s How to Fix It

Practicing PBL: Self-Directed Learning for Self-Starters (and finishers) (paid course)

Assessing Learning in the PBL Classroom: A top FAQ

Pondering the Complexity of ‘Mastery’ Learning Assessment

Background photo courtesy of Flickr   CC BY-SA 2.0

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conard. Photo courtesy of Ginger Lewman.

Guest: Susanne Thomas, New Director of Online Education at Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

Susanne Thomas 2

Our guest this week was Susanne Thomas, the new Director of Online Education at Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. Susanne was here to introduce the Fall 2014 line-up of online classes being offered beginning in September. A full transcript may be found here.

It was exciting to learn that two long-time #gtchat participants will be among the instructors for this fall’s classes. They are Justin Schwamm and Lisa Lauffer. Justin will be teaching two courses of Latin. He is the founder of Tres Columnae Online.  Lisa will be the instructor for Art Journaling.



Here is the line-up (All classes run from Sept 1st to Dec 19th):

Technomythica and Epic Heroes 11 AM – 12:00 PM PT Instructor: Liz Burr-Brandstadt

Web Design 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM PT Instructor: Cyd Smith

From Parts to Whole: Making Latin Make Sense 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM PT Instructor: Justin Schwamm

Introduction to Latin 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM PT Instructor: Justin Schwamm

The Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey, Project Based Learning Course 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PT Instructor: Gwyn Ridenhour

Aristotle Leads the Way – Part 1: The Story of Science 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PT Instructor: Andrea Whitson

Minecraft Math 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM PT Instructor: Christy Knockleby

Art Journaling 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM PT Instructor: Lisa Lauffer

Intro to Astrobiology 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PT Instructor: Robin Schneider


Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

GHF Online

About Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

Building Wingspan: GHF Online Fall 2014 Class Line Up! From Susanne’s Blog

Cybraryman’s Art Page



Introducing Rigor at the Secondary Level

This chat was spirited from the very beginning. The first question asked  participants to define the term ‘rigor’ and many different perspectives were expressed. In terms of this topic, most could agree that rigor was academic challenge that needed to be tailored to the individual student. All were in agreement that more rigor was needed at the secondary level. According to Kingore, we need rigor to reverse learned ‘habits of mind’ from ‘the least I can do’ to higher-level thinking.

Instructional strategies mentioned included differentiation, Socratic learning and Problem/Project-based Learning. Students need to have increased opportunities to apply learning to real-life situations making learning relevant to their lives. Schools need to provide equitable access to many possibilities including additional rigorous courses for advanced learners. Educators need time to collaborate to ensure the organization and sequencing of curriculum.

It was noted that sometimes increasing rigor can unintentionally promote failure and frustration when it is perceived as more work, more difficult work and too fast-paced instruction. Well planned implementation was seen as key.

Although it was suggested that an increase of rigor and subsequent instructional strategies would be good for all students, it was noted that gifted students still need greater depth and complexity in their studies. A full transcript can be found on this blog.



Differentiating Instruction To Promote Rigor/Engagement For Advanced/Gifted Students 

Lift the Ceiling Increase Rigor with Critical Thinking Skills (pdf)

Differentiation at the Secondary Level (pdf)

Increase Complexity and Rigor in Tiered Assignments

Encouraging Achievement: Igniting Student Passion for Learning (Coil) (pdf)

Before and After the Walkthrough: What to Do to Improve Instructional Rigor (pdf)

Getting Rigor Right: Academic Challenge without the Backlash of Failure (pdf)

Increasing Rigor Throughout the Lesson: Data-Driven Classroom Best Practice

Rigor Redefined

A Resuscitation of Gifted Education (pdf)

High School Reform and Gifted Students from @DukeTIP

Introduction to Curriculum for Gifted & Talented Students (pdf)

Introducing Depth and Complexity” from @ByrdseedGifted

Go Deeper! Get More Complex” from @ByrdseedGifted

Transforming Textbook Questions” from @ByrdseedGifted

Ginger Lewman and Project Based Learning

Ginger Lewman

Our recent chat with Ginger Lewman centered on Project-Based Learning. Ginger is an Education Consultant with ESSDACK, specializing in Project/Problem Based Learning, gifted and high-ability learners, differentiated instruction, and technology integration. After teaching in public schools for 15+ years, she joined the ESSDACK team, partnering with Kevin Honeycutt to bring you LifePracticePBL, a flavor of Project Based Learning that engages all learners, Kindergarten through High School.

Ginger presented a thorough explanation of the difference between doing projects and Project-Based Learning. “Doing projects is about learning a topic, reading something, being taught AND THEN doing a project that demonstrates what you learned. On the other hand, PBL is about learning *by* doing. It’s about having a question or a challenge to answer and that the learning happens because it has to be gathered/experienced. And the learning has to occur in order to answer the Question or solve the problem.” A full transcript of the chat may be found here.



Edupreneur ~ Ginger’s Blog

Ginger’s Bio

Livebinder Resources for Gifted and Talented Students

Ginger Lewman’s Library on Diigo

Project Based Learning: A Recipe for LifePractice by Ginger Lewman on Scoop.It!

Ginger’s Keynotes & Workshops

PBL Outline/Ideas Livebinder

PBL/STEM Livebinder

PBL Resources Livebinder

PBL: Learning Geogebra Livebinder

PBL in the Primary Classroom Livebinder

PBL as Entrée, Not Dessert Livebinder

LifePractice PBL

12 Ways to Know if You’re in a Project-Based Learning Environment or Merely Having Kids Create Projects in Your Classroom from @GingerLewman

Project-Based Homeschooling (book)

Project-Based Homeschooling Blog

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