Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) is well-known for providing educators with a life changing experience during its Connected Learner Experience.  Participants are often so engaged and inspired during this first year that they come back for additional professional development opportunities the subsequent year.  To help explain why, we asked four current and former Year 2 PLP participants to share their thoughts on making the shift from a traditional to project-based learning approach.

These educators made the shift to project-based learning

The first question we asked was what they remembered or utilized most from this experience:

Jane Cooper explained that “participation in the first year of PLP is much like learning the basics of a foreign language in exploring and developing Web 2.0 offerings; Year 2 PLP is akin to living in that foreign country and becoming an active participant in the culture and the language of the natives!  I was able to make a shift forward from instructor to conductor – celebrating my ‘failing forward’ in messy mistakes as I redefined my role as a facilitator of learning opportunities for students, incorporating various technological competencies acquired in Year One.

Imagine second graders in Texas learning about trajectory from fifth graders in Pennsylvania and then experiencing catapulting plastic pigs with upper school students – both on simulated iPads apps and the great outdoors with plastic shooters? Pigs really did fly in my classroom! The PBL involvement promotes a ‘risks-encouraged’ model, in which participants are supported and encouraged to build a personal, connected, and collaborative network of like-minded colleagues who are excited about infusing a growth model into their professional lives, as they strive to upgrade their curriculum opportunities for students.  My ‘aha’ moments from Year One shifted along with my skills to many ‘woo-hoo!’ moments of successes and triumphs during the PBL experiences.  Being a part of a PBL team affords great professional growth opportunities for all sorts of educators!”

Todd Davis said  “I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the PBL experience and worked with such amazing, creative, supportive teachers inside my school (Bear Creek, Elizabethtown, PA) and outside my school (i.e. Texas, Canada).  I had the ability to build a community of compatible individuals and to network, progress and contest ideas of a variety of ways to best connect with the students in my classroom and from afar.  I met and worked with astounding people face-to-face on a daily basis and via Skype, social media or YouTube and these individuals motivated me to ‘embrace change in my classroom and in my teaching philosophies.’ So, I endorsed project/problem based learning and networking with other teachers to engage the learners in and out of my classroom.”

The Project-Based Learning Immersion

Project-Based Learning Immersion

These educators all went through our Year 2 program – which is all about PBL: project-based learning, problem-based learning, and passion-based learning. We have completely revamped our PBL experience into the Project-Based Learning Immersion. Now, anyone can participate in this transformative learning journey.

About the program: A passionate student is a learning student. As the world is becoming increasingly connected, the nature, use, ownership, and purpose of knowledge are changing in profound ways. Our goal as educators is to leverage these connections and changes as powerful means to improve teaching and learning in our schools. The Project-Based Learning Immersion, a 3-course series, will move educators from introductory to advanced levels of project-based learning for enhanced student engagement and achievement. During the courses educators will use a variety of media and new tools that help them learn with others, support PBL management, and make available so students can work in authentic ways and beyond the classroom walls.

Jane Krauss

Jane Krauss (co-author of the best selling Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age) will lead these three Project-Based Learning (PBL) eCourses for Powerful Learning Practice.

The Project-Based Learning Courses

Course 1: Introduction to Project-Based Learning

This introductory course gives participants background and practice in the basics of Project-Based Learning (PBL). In it, educators will learn the basics of PBL, examine rich projects and meet masterful teachers, establish conditions for success, and practice new skills and technologies essential to PBL.  Learn more

Course 2: Designing Quality Projects

This second project-based learning eCourse will take educators to the edge of project implementation. Guided by each participant’s school improvement plan, educators will select key learning aims to address in an upcoming project. Participants will learn fundamental instructional design methods and identify “what success looks like” for planning and evaluating student learning. Learners will explore new tools for use during the upcoming project, and design a project plan that’s improved with the help of peers and the course instructor. Finally, course participants will prepare for launch, lining up support and experts, determine time lines and milestones, and get the tools, schedules and spaces in order. Learn more

Course 3: Launching and Guiding the Project Cycle

In Course 3 participants introduce, implement, evaluate and reflect on their projects. Along the way they construct a digital portfolio with student work samples, observations, assessments and reflections. At the end of the course, each educator will complete a self-assessment and submit a brief, guided reflection paper. Projects will be placed in an archive that others can learn from, use, or emulate. Learn more

What they’re saying

When participants were asked if they would recommend this experience to others they all said yes!

Sr. Geralyn Schmidt said I would recommend this experience to others because it is a great way to expand personally and professionally.  We are in the midst of amazing change in every aspect of society.  Change is the norm.  Educators need to be in the middle of that change.  After all, they are educating the future learners.  This experience has assisted me to create a vision of what 21st learning truly can be.”


Todd Davis emphatically said “Of course!! PLP gives you the teacher the most opportune ‘place’ to learn, interact, challenge, and listen to how students learn. It also makes you question your own teaching styles/philosophies and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.  However if you participate or ‘buy-in’ you will transform into a better educator which will reflect in your students who will in-turn have a thirst for knowledge.  This community is a great model for how classrooms should look in the 21st century.  Every student is participating, moving forward and growing as a learner, given unlimited support from teacher and peers, and has the ability to make mistakes and ask intriguing questions.  This is the perfect concoction of collaborative and self-directed learning!”

Todd concluded his interview by stating that in “the two years that I have had the privilege to be a part of PLP, the community of learners has helped me grow enormously! If I was in a rut, confused, needed advice or wanted to share an idea I knew that I had a large group of amazing and creative learners/educators to turn to.  This experience also helped me become an educator more in tune with how students learn and what they want to learn.  Before I was part of this great community, my classroom was pretty much a dry, desolated classroom where students came to not be challenged.  Everything changed that afternoon when I attended the first conference with Sheryl and Will…and I have not looked back since.  I would recommend this experience to any teacher young or old and if they could some day have all education majors in college take a course in PLP – we would have a world of students wanting to learn more!”
Becky Bair also added that while she “sometimes felt like a fish out of water during Year 2, I grew to appreciate that because it helped me understand how my students would feel when we were trying to shift from a traditional learning setting to one based on the PBL approach. It can be frustrating and confusing, but in the end when you see what you’ve accomplished it is very, very powerful. I’m also thankful for the relationships I developed during this process, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with these people next year when we’re not ‘officially’ part of Year 2 any more.”

Enroll in the Project-Based Learning Immersion

Join other educators in the Project-Based Learning Immersion – an affordable, easy way to get your classroom on track to make the shift from traditional to passion-based education for your students. Learn more and join today!

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Christen Dodd

Christen is a Connected Learning Specialist for PLP. After earning her MEd. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Virginia, she began her career as a K-5 Computer Resource Teacher. She enjoyed collaborating with staff and creating technology lessons that engaged students, but caught “the bug” for presenting to educators on a national level. For eleven years, Christen trained educators both face-to-face and virtually with Verizon Thinkfinity. She also served as their Distance Learning Coordinator and Vice President of Professional Development. Christen has enjoyed working with Powerful Learning Practice since 2011 and continuing her work with educators, parents and students alike. Currently, she is also an instructional technology specialist at her children's JK-8 Catholic school.

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