Everyday PBL: Organizing Information



Youngsters in Singapore are organizing their information about the World Games as they prepare to create their final product or performance as their Evidence of Learning. The inquiry they are making is: How do global competitions impact nations?

Everyday PBL consists of mini-problem scenarios developed from ordinary, everyday lessons. The difference is, these lessons have been repurposed as inquiry learning lessons, in which students are generating questions and investigating the targeted learning to arrive at findings that inform their questions. In this case, Singapore was preparing to host the World Games, so in their social studies lesson, in current events, the teachers turned the lesson into a Everyday PBL inquiry that fully engaged students in the processes of collaborating, gathering ideas, and organizing their ideas, (which is the focus of this post), as well as thinking, prioritizing, deciding, and presenting.

As mentioned, among the problem solving steps, in Everyday PBL, is Organizing Information. It is one of the most critical phases in the process because it forces the teams to stop the search and the research and move along if they are gong to meet their deadline. It signals that it is time for the team to look over what they have and somehow make sense of all the facts, data, stories and artifacts they have accumulated.

By requiring students to use a graphic organizer of their choice, the assignment causes them to talk, discuss, explain, compare, and finally to make decisions about where the information fits in the graphic that will to guide their review of the “stuff” and, at the same time provide a visual that “makes their thinking visible.”  As they work things out in the graphic, it starts to become more evident to all team members what the biggest ideas are, how the  various ideas actually connect to each other and how and why they seem to fit together.

In this complex process of thinking for connectivity and relationships in the data,  key ideas emerge in a summary or synthesis, and the essential elements become clear enough that they ca n move on to how they might present their findings as compelling evidence to others.

Organizing is critical to problem solving in order to seek the hidden messages that are always there with n the discerete data that has be gathered. The best advice for those new to the PBL process is to realize it is about the process of learning how to solve problems, and it’s usually best  o keep the flow of steps moving at a even pace. The goal is to experience the entire cycle of PBL in a nutshell  and then reflect on how things went for each group.

That’s the learning for a lifetime that can result when shifting to Everyday PBL. Students get multiple iterations of working with whole problems with their inquiry approaches. As they take responsibility to keep going, keep fanning the fire to finish and at the asme time, to own work and to rejoice and celebrate the outcomes. It is truly joyful work for kids because they love to think hard, they have reasons to get along and it feels good when the team to reaches the finish line.

About: Everyday PBL…by Brian and Robin, their new book coming out with ASCD in fall 2017. Be on the lookout for it.


Have You Solved a Problem Today?


Why is Everyday Problem Solving Important?

Have you solved a problem today? Most likely, the answer is “Yes,!” That’s what people do, from the young to the elderly, they solve “sticky-wicket” problems that are big and small, neat and messy, easy and complicated and they do it all day long. It’s called life and life presents constant challenges to overcome. The wee ones figure out how to get shoes on and tied, the teens are engrossed in managing their forgotten homework, while the high school sophomore finagles to get the car. In the adult world, the accountant is busy sorting out a double booking, the sales clerk is racing to the bus because her car didn’t start, frantic travelers at the airport are rescheduling appointments and rebooking flights that have been unexpectedly cancelled, and the elderly woman who lives across the street is gingerly navigating the ice on the front walk. Yes, problems, challenges, and troubles make the world go round, just as accomplishments, awards and celebrations do.

With that in mind, it behooves the educational community to practice problem solving is in multiple situation. At the end of the day, the argument for practicing inquiry and problem-based learning (PBL) throughout the curriculum seems well founded. It is time to move into that 21st Century curriculum framework that challenges kids to learn how to think on their own, how to try figure things out and to take pride in their accomplishments. They begin see that they are good thinkers and good problem solvers, as their confidence in their own abilities to be aware and to take control of the situation.

It’s how you let go and let them grow. It’s okay if they struggle a little. That informs you of the skills that need attention through coaching and feedback, and mini-lessons that instruct and clarify.

That’s why Everyday PBL provides the opportunity for teachers to turn everyday lesson into everyday inquiry with the efficient and effective model.

Unleashing Problem Solvers with Everyday PBL

Step #1 Develop a Question – Essential questions are universal; they branch and reach out. (How Do Structures Impact our Lives? Structure of: sentences, atoms, family, planets)

Step #2 – Scenario and Stakeholder Role – Your point of view matters a lot to the entire PBL (Stakeholder Roles: Legal Drinking Age Bill into Law: sheriff, teen, parent, peer, sibling) 

Step #3 – Research Ideas Searching and Researching – knowing what you know, what you don’t (Researching with credible web searches, interviews, field trips, and text readings)

Step #4 – Organize Material –order your findings with tools that reflect the relationship (collect information to the point that they are farther from a solution than when they started).

Step #5Create Product –devise a product, paper, video, graph to demonstrate evidence of learning (OK, It’s not perfect! Do not allow perfect to be the enemy of good. Get it done!)

Step #6 – Present Evidence –Present in favored way with creativity and a sense of audience (the presentation is as different as cooking a turkey and serving Thanksgiving dinner)

Step #7 – Assess Learning – Formative and summative assessment for reflection (project & quality of writing, presentation, research, collaboration, time management)

ASCD Book coming out in October  2017: Everyday PBL: Pete and Fogarty

The problem with focusing relentlessly on understanding is that math and science students can often grasp essentials of an important idea, but this understanding can quickly slip away without consolidation through practice and repetition. Worse, students often believe they understand something when, in fact, they don’t. By championing the importance of understanding, teachers can inadvertently set their students up for failure as those students blunder in illusions of competence. As one (failing) engineering student recently told me: “I just don’t see how I could have done so poorly. I understood it when you taught it in class.” My student may have thought he’d understood it at the time, and perhaps he did, but he’d never practiced using the concept to truly internalize it. He had not developed any kind of procedural fluency or ability to apply what he thought he understood.

via How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math – Issue 40: Learning – Nautilus

Staff Room to Classroom-2nd Edition Celebration: Shouting from the Roof Top!

IMG_6595.JPGWe are so pleased to announce the arrival of our new, second edition book that is here in time for our July Staff Room to Classroom Conference in Chicago, July 5,6,7 2017. It has the latest and greatest information for PD teacher, leader teams- targeting the different generations of adult learners, integrating digital -rich technology to enhance the sessions,  team presentations with peer coaching and feedback, and 10 planned workshops for a monthly PD throughout the 2017-18 school year. It’s a Game-Changer for Change Agents.

What we know about what kids will need

2 Things we learned in this article: Century Talent Spotting – LINK

1 – VUCA is how they describe the world that educators are sending their students . . . But we contend that the environment that schools strive to be is dependable, predictable, simple and definite. VUCA – means a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment (VUCA is the military-acronym-turned-corporate-buzzword)

2 – Here is the “talent” that is most desired in the current marketplace:

Curiosity: a penchant for seeking out new experiences, knowledge, and candid feedback and an openness to learning and change

Insight: the ability to gather and make sense of information that suggests new possibilities

Engagement: a knack for using emotion and logic to communicate a persuasive vision and connect with people

Determination: the wherewithal to fight for difficult goals despite challenges and to bounce back from adversity

Here is how we propose getting students ready for the Test of Life Not Just the Test 21st LINK

Brian Pete & Robin Fogarty


I’m Different! And, You are Too!—Using Reflection to Differentiate Instruction | Solution Tree Blog

Our latest entry for Solution Tree Blog –

The first, mentioned previously, is teacher feedback, the second is metacognitive self-reflection, and the third, peer tutoring. Fortunately, all three of these are embedded in the metacognitive skill set for the reflective thinking that is needed for student problem-solving and student mindfulness necessary for decision-making.With the conventional knowledge of an expert teacher on the power of reflective thinking and the research findings that support the metacognition skill set, it behooves us as educational leaders to honor and nurture that unique uniqueness of our students.

Source: I’m Different! And, You are Too!—Using Reflection to Differentiate Instruction | Solution Tree Blog

The Future Agency – The Verge

  • Maybe students of today will pursue a career in the field of imaging what the world will look like in 25 years . . .

Design fiction is created by a loose confederation of agencies, artists, engineers, and designers who are shaping our expectations of technology and society in decades to come by showing us what that incipient world might look like, down to its cliche brand logos. It’s science fiction made real in the form of interactive exhibitions, product demonstrations, and behind-the-scenes consulting work. And it tends to pop up at any event Davos-ish enough to include the word “influencers.”

Source: The Future Agency – The Verge

Metacognition: The Secret Power Set

Four forces are in the wind of the educational world propelling the complementary notions of metacognitive reflection, self-regulation, self-assessment, and a sense of student agency. These are identified as dispositions  needed for our future citizens as they assume their rightful role of life-long learners. According to Toeffler, “The illiterate of the future will not be those who cannot read and write, rather it will be those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn” – the skills at the very heart of metacognitive reflection. The four winds impacting this mission are:

  • Schools are riding on the coattails of the Common Core State Standards
  • Schools are no longer just the brick and mortar buildings, but, schools without walls.
  • Schooling, in fact, is anywhere, anytime learning; doing it to learn not learning to do.
  • Student agency is the goal;  teaching in ways that students  learn without being taught.

The secret power of metacognition is one of the ways this happens. Students must acquire the skillfulness to be metacognitive, to step back from the action of the moment, to think about their thinking, and what they are thinking about, and at the same time, to strive to learn about their strengths and weaknesses as learners. They must know what they are good at, what they can improve, and what is, at this moment, outside their areas of interest, specialty or speculation. Students must be empowered within themselves to forge ahead, regardless of the paths they may choose.

Attention to the metacognitive strategies for planning, monitoring and evaluation their own behaviors and learning dispositions is key to becoming more reflective and more self-reliant. Teachers and students must begin to embrace a somewhat less content dependent and more application-dependent approach to living and learning. Of course, content is always there. It is what we have to think about, but the processes are the life long skills that help students strike the 21st Century postures of “kids in the know.

Call Robin Fogarty & Associates for professional learning days this summer. It is the perfect time for students to soak in the promise of this amazing set of strategies that include 1) a metacognitive strategies skill set for reflective learning 2) a formative assessment skills set for actionable feedback , and 3) a student collaboration skill set for peer coaching.

800.213.9246. We will listen, ask questions and advise you and your instructional leadership team how to best roll out this curriculum of  “21st Century Soft Skills” that are shaping the options students have as future citizens, facing unknown challenges in their lifetimes.