Students who can solve real-world problems

February 23, 2014 § 1 Comment

I spent a team day with @cwoldhuis and we created memories. Our goal was to make progress on a Year 9 Mathematics Learning Project and it was a very enjoyable day of professional and personal development. We started by visiting some Year 1 and 2 students at our school who were participating  in  a Maths experience where each student was teamed to solve a problem. The students we spoke with were aiming to describe their classroom to a teacher in Austria who wanted to build a similar classroom. It highlighted a number of important elements within the process that we were about to use. The PBL elements that we used stem from the Buck Institute (link below)


We then noted the syllabus outcomes for our students. syllabus

Aside from syllabus outcomes, we wanted to address other outcomes such as learning skillsthinking routines and aspects of growth mindset research.


Next we considered the development of our big idea. It was an interesting process because the first few attempts that we wrote didn’t stick but all of the follow up suggestions  were debated to an eventual outcome. We also got some help from our critical friends at this stage. This is the protocol that we’ll continue to use.

big development

Within these learning experiences the students will get to make choices about how they present and communicate their work. We wanted to design a statement that gave direction but also allowed for student voice/choice. design

The entry event for these projects is a time to give students an inspirational experience that can help to direct their thoughts and ideas. We plan to enlist some other staff members and ensure that the students are impacted on many levels. The discussion around this event got everyone excited about the possibilities of this project.

entry event

The timeline is an important aspect to plan and we will continue to work on this in the next few days. You’ll see that feedback and critique is a vital part of the process. This example helped for some of the team members to see its power. The public audience is another vital ingredient so we will lock in our location and times soon.


We are in the learning phase of Project Based Learning for Mathematics at our school and it is an amazing journey. If you can see any gaps in our process or would like to offer some advice then we will be all ears. It’s helpful to note without the PBL process, real world problem solving can be both boring and unengaging as Dan Meyer points out. We are using PBL because we want to provide room for student curiosity and personalisation within an environment that normally treats every student the same.  


Buck Institute of Education – elements of PBL


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