Module 2 Video Talks

Video Talk 1: How to design project-based learning

Hello and welcome to this topic on project based learning. My name is Anne Gilleran and I come from Dublin in Ireland. I currently work at European Schoolnet as a Pedagogical Manager. However I have worked all my life in education, as a teacher, guidance counselor, school principal, and teacher trainer.
Today I want to explore with you some of the ideas behind Project Based Learning (PBL for short); look at some of the various models of PBL and pinpoint some basic considerations which must be taken into account when planning a PBL activity with your students.
Project-based learning is an approach which uses methods such as inquiry-based learning and problem-based learning to develop students’ competences. Let me explain this a little more. Having decided to explore a topic or concentrate on an aspect of your curriculum you can decide to use either an Inquiry based approach or a Problem based approach, or indeed a mixture of the two.
Let’s examine the Inquiry-based learning method first. Inquiry is "a seeking or request for truth, information or knowledge". Inquiry-based learning starts with questioning, continues with exploration and investigation and ends with finding a solution, drawing a reasonable conclusion, making a substantive decision or applying new knowledge or skills.  It is often used to explore deep questions such as; Are all humans born free? Is democracy the ideal way to organise society?
Inquiry-based learning relies on
questioning – you may say “but so does the traditional approach to learning.” The difference is, however, that in the traditional classroom it is the teacher who asks questions to which answers can easily be found and which usually do not go beyond the immediately available information. In an inquiry-driven classroom, it is not only the teacher who asks open-ended questions, but also students themselves. Students are encouraged to question arguments, information, ideas, opinions and viewpoints, to go deeper and generate new questions, which will lead them to new knowledge.
Let’s have a look at the type of questions that one should concentrate on. I quote here from the work of John Mergendoller of the Buck Institute for Education,. He says that in a PBL environment, the project should investigate what he describes as   "non-Googleable Driving Questions".  In other words questions that cannot be easily answered by just looking up Google, Bing, Wikipedia etc. Just like in pre internet days, students would look up an encyclopedia and slavishly copy the information to provide their answers.His examples of Googleable questions are:
"Who were the first settlers in our city?"
"What does it mean to be a healthy eater?"
"How are airplanes wings constructed?"
Of course, to quote Mergendoller, he doesn't want to say "that these questions aren't worth knowing, because they are, and they can lead students to engage in a form of research. Such research, however, emphasizes uncovering information and explicating concepts, rather than thinking critically about information and concepts."
On the other hand, non-Googleable questions would be:
"What was the most important cause of our city's growth?"
"How can we best convince teenagers to be healthy eaters?"
How can we design an airplane wing that is light and will support 25 pounds without breaking?
" Answers to these questions can't be found on Google without "digging" deeply.
The whole purpose of PBL is to encourage pupils to research and to find answers and solutions, to help them develop higher-order thinking skills: analyse the information they find, interpret it and compare their findings, synthesis the ideas, evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, peer and self-assess it, find solutions and create a new product.
Let’s now take a look at the problem-based learning method, which is more practical.  Students are given a real life problem to investigate, which can be described as an authentic problem and have to come up with possible solutions. It may be widely applied to all kinds of real life problems. The solutions can then be discussed and tested to see which will work best in a given situation, for example. How to provide the best care for elderly people in their own homes, How to improve access to public buildings. Both of these approaches focus on developing problem-solving, critical thinking and information-processing skills.  They also work best when students have to work in small teams or groups. The two methods are closely related to each other and often overlap.  It is also interesting to note that in this approach, there are not necessarily right or wrong answers. Each solution may have merits and demerits and the students have to analyse and judge.  This can be a new departure for some teachers who have up to know maybe always dealt in factual knowledge.
I am sure you are familiar with this phrase ‘Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand’. This is the basic tenet of PBL. It is of course more demanding on both student and teacher, but it is also more rewarding.
Implementing the PBL approach in your teaching requires you to bear in mind a few practicalities before you start. Here are a few pointers you need to think about, which you can consider as a preliminary checklist:
·         What is your project idea?
·         What is the time frame proposed?
·         Is the project idea manageable?
·         Is it a project just between you and your class or will you collaborate with other teachers in your school or in other countries
·         If it involves partners from other countries, what is the language proposed?
·         What subjects could be integrated into this project?
·         What technical tools, if any, will you use?
·         How does your project fit with the school planning and calendar?

Once you have fulfilled the basics you are ready to start. If you bear in mind the following 7 steps then you are well on your way…

Step 1. Involve your students from the very beginning. Start with a guided exploration of some topics you have in mind as a whole class; but also be prepared to change if better ideas are emerging from the class. It is important to establish certain ground rules regarding behavior with them in advance. 
Step 2.  Having defined the topic, in discussion with the class break it down into different tasks. Discuss which technologies to use and how they will be integrated
Step 3. Plan well, set goals, define outcomes. Above all be concrete, students need goals to work towards and responsibility of tasks in order to achieve them
Step 4. Proceed to put pupils into small groups with responsibilities for a particular task.  Encourage pupils to ask personally relevant and socially significant questions regarding the topics chosen. Work to the strengths of each pupil.
Step 5. Create a tangible artifact that addresses the issue, answers questions, and makes learning visible and accountable.
Step 6. Arrive at a conclusion...take a stand...take action.
Step 7. Document, justify, and share conclusion with larger audience. (parents, school etc)
Build in presentation of the outcomes or artifact to different audiences as a key part of the project. Presentation of ideas to others consolidates the learning for the students.
When you actively engage the student in their learning activities and find these activities to be meaningful with a tangible outcome, their attitude to learning will undoubtedly change for the better. Learning becomes fun.
4. Final Points
I hear you ask well, just how do we assess the acquisition of all these competences developed within project-based learning? To learn more about this, you can listen to the videos in module 3 which look precisely at this important issue. My final point is this, PBL can be approached in two ways, either you work in your own classroom with your class and the work is kept in there, or you decide to work collaboratively with other teachers in your own school, own country or in other countries. When you take this broader approach, the rewards of collaboration can be of enormous benefit both to you and your students. The benefits of exchange and peer learning really does help you to consolidate your approach to changing teacher practice through discussion with other teachers. You are no longer alone. If you are interested in developing projects in a national, European or international context, checkout the project eTwinning. Here you will find a professional community of over 260 thousand teachers interested in you and your ideas.
I wish you every enjoyment of this course, I am sure you will learn a lot, and also apply what you learn widely, and I look forward to maybe meeting you one day in our connected world.
Video Talk 2: How to Develop Learners’ Collaborative Problem Solving Skills
In this video we interview Professor Patrick Griffin from the University of Melbourne, about the nature of collaborative problem solving tasks, and the cognitive and social skills learners need to apply and teachers need to observe. The concrete steps teachers need to take to set-up collaborative problem solving tasks in the classroom are also explained. 
Because this video is an unscripted interview, there is no precise transcript available. However, Professor Patrick Griffin has drafted a dedicated paper to accompany this video, which provides further details.
Download the paper below the video.

Patrick Griffin & Esther Care
Assessment Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
(November, 2014)


1.    Explore the nature of collaborative problem solving.

2.    Differentiate group work and collaborative group work

3.    Set guidelines for developing collaborative projects or problem resolution


21st century framework and skills

What are the capabilities that have been identified and defined as 21st century skills? One view is that any skills that are essential for navigating life in the 21st century could be classed as 21st century skills. This does not mean that many familiar skills of the 20th and preceding centuries are no longer needed. But there are new skills emerging as increasingly important. In this session we will provide an overview of how several global initiatives have looked at skills within a 21st century framework. Because of the recent decision by the OECD to focus collaborative problem solving.
Skill, competence, competency - which are we talking about? Well, different groups conceptualise these notions differently! Some initiatives are based in an understanding of the school curriculum. They define competence as something that goes beyond physical and cognitive aspects to include attitudinal characteristics, and assume that these are essential to assure a successful life and society. Others, like the ATC21S project maintains use of the term "skills" but effectively also encompass attitudinal characteristics. For our purposes in the ATC21S project, we regarded a skill as an action a person can perform. Competence encompasses the quality and transferability of that action over time and context. No one performs a skill at the same level every time. No one operates at their maximum all the time. We adjust our performance according to the demands at the time. Competence therefore can be regarded as the ability of the person to adjust the skill performance to the demands of the context.

The c21 skills framework

The ATC21S project began in 2009 and one of the first questions was to do with the definition and framework and because technology had made changes to the workplace and life styles, new skills were needed as well as new emphases on older skills. In order to deal with this a symposium held at the end of the AERA conference in San Diego recommended four sets of skills be recognised as essential for adjustments to the effect of technology on life, learning and work. The skills were identified as those which would enable people to demonstrate new ways of thinking, ways of working, tools for working and living in the world that had emerged as a result of technology.

Figure 1: the KSAVE Framework for ATC21S

\Ways of thinking were conceptualised to include creativity and innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving, and learning to learn and the development of metacognition. Ways of working was conceptualised to include communication, collaboration and teamwork; Tools for working involved information and ICT literacy; Living in the world involved changing emphases on local and global citizenship, aspects of life and career development, and personal and social responsibility. These were all grouped under the acronym KSAVE: knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and ethics. It also meant that the Ways of learning and ways of teaching need to be taken into account in the development of the assessment strategies that focus on these skills.
As we all know, the 21st century does not exist in isolation! Two initiatives indicate that the concerns began in the 20th century – those undertaken by UNESCO and PISA. These provide a context for teaching and assessment in the 21st century skills arena. UNESCO recommended a competence approach. The Delors’ Report (1996) marked the beginning of UNESCO's 21st century competence learning discourse - with learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together - forming the four pillars of learning. These four pillars are more complex than appears and shift the discussion somewhat to a philosophical level.
Learning to know includes developing the faculties of memory, reasoning and problem solving; it pre-supposes learning to learn and could usefully be extended to the concept of knowledge building. This perspective does not presume that knowledge is fixed. Learning to do implies acquisition of complex skills, but also refers to developing an aptitude for teamwork and initiative, and a readiness to take risks. Learning to live together is the pillar UNESCO emphasizes more than any other. It refers to developing an understanding of others as well as highlighting the reality that if we are to understand others, we must first know ourselves. Learning to be is founded on the fundamental principle that education needs to contribute to the all-round development of each individual. This pillar deals with what it is to be human, comprehended by intellectual, moral, cultural and physical dimensions. 
The OECD's position, developed within the DeSeCo Project - Definition and Selection of Competencies - has a focus on key competencies - and classifying these competencies in three broad categories. First, individuals need to be able to use a wide range of tools for interacting effectively with others and the environment. They need both physical tools such as information technology and socio-cultural ones such as the use of language. They need to understand these tools well enough to adapt them for their own purposes. Second, in anincreasingly networked and interdependent world, individuals need tobe able to engage with others. Third, individuals need to take responsibility for managing their own lives through situating themselves in the broader social context.

Figure 2: UNESCO Synthesis of Needed Skills

Partnerships 21 took as their mission to catalyse US K12 education for the 21st century. Essentially they endorse the "fusing" of traditional academic disciplines with skills including critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration - the 3Rs with the 4Cs; these are contextualised within life and career skills, and technology and media skills.

Figure 3: Partnerships 21 Curriculum Framework

Each of the approaches to understanding of 21st century skills and how they fit with our notions of education and the function it serves, emphasises skills that diverge from modern traditional notions of academic disciplines. They all actually identify enabling skills - skills that we need to navigate our global society. They converge on a common set of 21st century competences - collaboration, communication, ICT literacy, and social and/or cultural competencies; and most include creativity, critical thinking, productivity, and problem-solving.

Figure 4: Comparisons of organisations defining c21 skills

Notwithstanding the strong degree of agreement across the initiatives, they are all developed at the conceptual level and they differ in terms of what they set out to achieve. The P21, European Union, and OECD's DeSeCo frameworks can be regarded as generic frameworks that provide a conceptualization of 21st century skills upon which other frameworks can be built. Areas most in need of explicit development and application are those associated with teacher development, curriculum, and assessment. Within the ATC21S framework work has focused on a two complex skills areas in order to look at precisely these issues - of teaching and assessment, and their implications for the curriculum. In this session we will focus on just one of them – collaborative problem solving.
Collaborative problem solving is a complex skill requiring both social and cognitive competencies. It was rationalised by the ATC 21S project team as a composite skill arising from the links between critical thinking, problem solving, decision making and collaboration.  The term “collaborative Problem Solving” was adopted from the work of O’Neill (2014) and from counselling in the work of Green (2004). Hesse et al (2015) conceptualised collaborative problem solving as consisting of five broad strands - participation, perspective taking, social and task regulation, and knowledge building and we will return to these in detail. These strands have been used as the framework for the development and field testing of scenario-based tasks designed to elicit collaborative problem solving skills. Collaborative problem solving is a set of skills that we need to rely on when the capacities or resources of just one person are not sufficient to solve the problem. We need to learn how to combine different resources and skills when faced with complex problems. The OECD has also adopted these approaches, with a slightly different interpretation and conceptual framework and will assess collaborative problem solving in 2015 PISA study.

Figure 5: Two Domains of Collaborative Problem Solving

The challenge for teachers in scaffolding student learning in collaborative problem solving, is to identify students’ emerging skills and provide the right support at the right time at the right level. Teachers’ assessment practices have to adjust and move from generating summative information about past performance, or as comparison of one student with others, toward assessment that helps them find the starting point for instruction and ways in which they can tailor their teaching to students learning social and cognitive skills associated with collaborative problem-solving. This is the heart of formative assessment. It links assessment and teaching and in this course it links assessment and teaching to 21st-century skills.

The Nature of collaborative problem solving

The primary distinction between problem-solving by an individual and collaborative problem-solving is its social nature - the need for communication, exchange of ideas, shared identification of the problem and its elements, and negotiated agreement on connections between problem elements and relationships between actions and their effects. Collaborative problem-solving makes each of these steps observable, as they must be shared with a partner or other members of a group if a solution is to be successfully identified. These steps can be described as follows:
1.    A problem state must be jointly recognised, and collaborators must identify and agree on which elements of the problem each can control or monitor.
2.    A representation of the problem must be shared.
3.    Collaborators need to agree on a plan of action, including management of resources.
4.    Plans must be executed, which may require a coordinated effort by collaborators acting together or in sequence.
5.    Progress towards a solution must be monitored, different options evaluated, plans reformulated if necessary, and collaborators must decide on how to proceed in the face of positive or negative feedback.
This approach to problem-solving has been described in the literature since 1973, when Polya[1] formalised it as a way to solve mathematics problems. It has since been adopted in the maths and science related problem solving tests of the OECD’s PISA international studies. ATC21S has taken the view that this might not be appropriate for collaborative problem-solving in areas broader than mathematics and science. Collaborative problem solving can incorporate social and historical problems as well as mathematics and science, for instance. Table 1 provides a summary comparison of the different approaches taken to problem-solving and collaborative problem-solving by Polya’s (1973) approach, the OECD’s PISA studies, and ATC21S.

Polya 1973
PISA 2003/2012
Understand the   problem
Explore and understand
Collect and share information about the collaborator and the task
Devise a plan
Represent and formulate
Check links and relationships , organise  and categorize  information
Carry out the plan
Plan and execute
Rule use: set up procedures and strategies  to solve the problem using an “If, then..” process
Look back and check
Monitor and reflect
Test hypotheses using a  “what if” process and check process and solutions
Table 1: Comparisons of approaches to problem-solving and collaborative problem-solving.

In the ATC21S study, problem-solving was seen as a series of steps leading towards hypothesis testing and collaborative testing of ideas:
1.    The first step is where each of the individuals within the collaborative team explores the problem space and identifies the elements and aspects of it. They might record their observations individually at this stage.
2.    The next step involves students collecting and sharing information about problem elements and how they link together. In this process the students are identifying and collating the total amount of information about the problem by sharing information about observations and collaborating and defining the problem space.
3.    Discussion then centres on whether there are patterns and links between elements of the problem, both within and across the areas of observation available to each of the participants.
4.    Once the connections are identified, the discussion and collaboration begin to formulate rules or contingencies associated with actions and observations. These need to be shared across the participants’ observation space. The discussion follows the “if… then” paradigm.
5.    By a process of observation and collecting data about the link between actions and observations, the collaborators then begin to formulate rules or contingencies. These lead to generalisations so that the collaborators can conclude that every time a particular action takes place a particular consequence is observed. At this point they move from inductive to deductive reasoning in the hierarchy of problem solving skills.
6.    At the highest ATC21S level of performance, students reflect on the kind of conclusions that are drawn from the information about exceptions to the generalisations. At this point the students are testing hypotheses by challenging generalisations. They address the issue with such expressions as "what if…"
The importance of collaborative problem-solving in the workplace is increasing as societies and workplaces become increasingly knowledge dependent. Collaborative problem solving requires that the people combine their resources and their strategies in order to reach a common goal. The assumption here is that collaboration is essential because the task is too complex for a person to work through it alone. It may be that different people possess different information; different expertise and experience that they can bring to the problem space in order to jointly share the knowledge, experience and strategies in order to jointly solve a particular problem. So combining resources is important. So too is the knowledge and the kinds of skills that each person possesses. So we would argue that collaborative problem-solving has these two main components. The collaborative, sharing or social aspects and the knowledge, strategic, problem-solving or cognitive aspects.
Collaborative problem solving is therefore defined as a joint activity where two or more people work together to contribute knowledge, skills, materials and procedures and move through a series of cognitive states that involve collection and analysis of information and the formulation of hypotheses that they jointly set out to test.
There has been, and possibly will continue to be, a debate about the nature of collaborative problem solving,  methods defining it and the concern that measuring it might distort its  nature. In the ATC21S project collaborative problem-solving was measured by developing algorithms that monitored and logged the kinds of activities and communications that a pair of students shared when they were jointly setting out to solve a problem.
We explored a different approach to assessment. Traditionally when collaborative teams undertake assessment tasks, problem based learning projects, or investigations in the classroom, the assessment focuses on the outcome of the team effort. We now examine how we can identify individual skill development and their contribution to the overall team result. This is what makes the measurements of collaborative problem-solving different from almost every other group problem solving, or collaborative learning approach. The second thing that makes it different is that it is technology-based. Just reviewing a couple of simple examples of two people working their way through a particular collaborative problem solution it becomes evident that an observer gets lost in the complex interactions and activities of the participants.
The medium of delivery of the task or project can be face-to-face or through technology. With technology there is a range of ways in which the students can collaborate. This can be across different countries, classrooms and it does not matter if there physically separated by times, location, page, opportunity or subject knowledge. What is required is that the students can simultaneously access the tasks and interact with one another via the Internet to explore potential procedures and strategies that would help them solve a complex problem. The essential aspect of the collaborative problem-solving task or a collaborative problem based learning project is that each participant in the group possesses or controls unique knowledge, expertise, experience, materials or objects that are essential to the completion of the task, the project or the problem solution. Without every individual contributing their specific resource project cannot be completed; problem cannot be solved; the task cannot be done. Collaborative problem-solving demands that every participant contributes to the work of the group and is able to understand and explain to their collaborators their role and the importance of their contribution to the solution of the task.
So it is clear that collaborative problem-solving relies upon at least two areas of skill. The students working together must have the capacity and skills that enable them to work collaboratively and to share their knowledge, expertise and suggestions of strategy. They must also have the cognitive skills that enable them to understand the problem and analyse its tasks and specific requirements. In addition the student will need to have the cognitive skills that will enable them to assemble information; build their expertise and understanding of the problem; link their shared understandings to particular procedures that will enable them to make progress in reaching the problem solution and to be able to identify patterns and strategies that can help understand connections and contingencies that will eventually enable them to make generalizable suggestions to each other about problem solution and to test those generalisations in the form of hypothesis testing.
So in designing a collaborative problem based task or project there are several steps:
1.    Define the problem or collaborative project.
2.    Identify project elements and components in detail;
3.    for each component identify the resources that are essential. These can be;
a.    knowledge
b.    materials
c.    strategies
d.    experience
e.    equipment;
4.    Allocate to each participant non-overlapping, unique sets of resources necessary to be contributed to the project completion or problem resolution. Divide the resources amongst the participants with no shared or common resources.
5.    Clearly state the goals of the task or problem solution and observed to students procedure in the task.
6.    Explain to the participants that they must identify the problem, sort out a strategy to resolve the problem or complete the task
7.    The students also need to develop a means of keeping records of their decisions and discussions. For face-to-face attempts at collaborative problem-solving or collaborative project work keeping records is an essential aspect of the assessment process.

Autor, D., Levy, F., & Murnane, R. (2003). The skill content of recent technological change: An empirical exploration. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(4), 1279–1333.
Binkley, Marilyn,  Ola Erstad, Joan Herman, Senta Raizen, Martin Ripley,May Miller-Ricci, and Mike Rumble.  Defining Twenty-First Century Skills in Griffin, P. , McGaw, B., and Care, E., (2012). Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century skills. Springer. Dordrecht.
Care, E. , Griffin, P., Claire Scoular, C., Awwal, N & Zoanetti (2015). Collaborative Problem Solving Tasks in Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills. Methods and Approach (Eds) P. Griffin, & E. Care. (2015) Springer. Dordrecht.
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[1] Polya, G. (1973). How to Solve It, Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.

Video Talk 3: A Teacher’s Experience of using Project-Based Learning to Teach Mathematics

Hi my name is Sandra Fay. I am a second level maths teacher at St Marks Community School in Ireland, and teach students aged between 12 and 18. In this video I’m going to talk to you about my experience of the Irish initiative Project Maths, introduced to you in Module 1. The aim of the initiative was to improve students’ mathematical competence and shift the focus in the classroom from teacher led drill and practice to developing the skills of problem-solving, higher order reasoning and sense-making. I’m going to share with you the challenges we faced in implementing this new approach, and also provide you with some top tips on how to develop these skills through your teaching.
There was an appetite for change in my school. We knew the system was broken so it had to be fixed. The maths classes were often teacher-centred. Predominately teachers demonstrated mathematical procedures and skills, and students practiced them. Essentially we were focusing on one type of learner and as a result at least 50% of the class was not engaged. As a school we were excited about the reform, which considerably revised the mathematics syllabus, pedagogy and classroom assessment which accompanied it, but we knew it would not come without its challenges. There were major challenges for the school, teachers, and students.

For the school there were many challenges including time tabling, team teaching organisation, IT resources, Training facilitation and meeting time allocation.

The principal had to ensure there was a whole school support, and that students, teachers and parents felt supported in the process. As the syllabus development happened in phases, teachers were working from different syllabuses.
1.    New content was added while other content was removed from the syllabus, depending on its’ relevance to the overall plan.
2.    There were no books and initially few resources.  A lot of time was spent by teachers devising new resources of their own.  There was also a lot of time spent discovering and exploring new resources online.
3.    Time allocation was also a huge concern for teachers. Our routine was totally disrupted.  As the syllabus and its content were changing and growing we did not know were the time would come from to cover the content.
4.     We were worried about where the time for developing skills and focusing on projects, discovery learning, real life concepts, and group work etc. was going to come from?

Many teachers had to completely review how they understood their role in the classroom. There was a whole unease around the sense of newness.  The challenge of new topics, new pedagogies, new assessment and new technology was facing us. We had two choices:
1.       One was to embrace the challenges and take this opportunity and use it as a means of engaging our students.  The hope being that our students would engage collaboratively, and learn from each other’s problem solving strategies. This would enable them to think creatively and critically in relation to maths and hopefully the real world.   
2.    Or alternatively do nothing and stay as we were focusing on lower order thinking and procedural maths, rather than real understanding and transferrable skills for the future.

We chose to embrace the challenges, and we were able to meet them thanks to five effective strategies. The first was collaboration among the department. Everyone in the department was fully on board, and we benefited from the enthusiasm and leadership of our department head also. As time was a huge challenge and developing resources was extremely important, collaborating and sharing resources was crucial to its success. We had a shared server where we uploaded our resources and made them freely available to all members of staff. There was a huge sense of continuity for the students as we were using the same T&L, PowerPoint’s, and resources for introducing and teaching all our topics. There was a real sense of alignment as there was a lot of discussion and debate among teachers around the logical order to teach each topic and for how long for. The whole unease around the newness created a strong nature of support amongst the staff.

The second important factor was the intensive school support we received. As a national initiative each pilot school was allocated a regional development officer to provide professional development support. Our officer was outstanding and delivered excellent workshops with great ideas for bringing real life scenarios into the classroom. She helped us develop resources, and overcome our fears and reservations around the constant changes in the syllabus.  She was also available at any time online for advice. There was a real sense that we were in this together, and as a school we felt very much supported. Collaborative learning was evident amongst us all.

Thirdly, a supportive leadership was paramount to the success of the implementation in St Marks Community School. Our principal could see the appetite for change and she spurred it on. The support was endless - timetabling, team teaching, IT and resource investment, meeting times, and training times were all taken care of. There was a real sense of whole school support.

Team teaching was the fourth facilitating factor, which turned out to be an excellent experience. The young and old teachers were in a position to glean from each other’s expertise. It was also a major factor in enabling teachers overcome a lot of fears. Some teachers enjoyed and encouraged group work. Other teachers felt less vulnerable experiencing it alongside a confident colleague whilst finding their way. Other teachers were extremely competent using IT and were able to help and encourage the colleagues with the use of ICT in the classroom. Team teaching brought huge benefits to the department as a whole. The skill set of the maths department as a whole grew tenfold due to the collaborative sharing of resources and skills which would not have happened without the support and flexibility of the management.

Finally, the use of IT to support learning had a significant impact on our ability to change. Maths teachers embraced the use of statistical packages and also Geogebra.  Geogebra changed the face of the maths classroom.  Geogebra allows both student and teachers to do a lot of investigation and discovery learning in the area of coordinate geometry, Functions, Graphs, Calculus and trigonometry to name a few. This means more time can be dedicated to higher order thinking and analytical skills as the computer can carry out the mundane tasks at a click of a button. We also use Edmodo, which is an online learning platform. It provides a safe and easy way for our classes to connect and collaborate, share content, and access homework, and in so doing encourages a peer-learning and peer-support environment – both in the classroom and online. Both teachers and students are encouraged to post resources they may have found useful.

On the basis of my experience of using a skills-based approach and project-based learning in the maths class, my top four tips to teachers would be the following.
1. Use project-based learning. Introducing project-based learning, including group work and investigational tasks, is very challenging, as you have to make sure students stay on task and ensure their work load is shared evenly in relation to their abilities. However, from my experience, it is also extremely rewarding. I have implemented statistic projects with my students which allowed them to investigate and research topics they were interested in. Seeing statistics as a cycle through the project-based learning process - posing a question, gathering, collecting, analysing and interpreting results, allowed my students to see the importance and relevance of what they were doing. This process can be used across a range of topics, including Trigonometry, Algebra, and Calculus, or geometry as in the following example. Let’s say we want students to do a project about volume. Firstly we need to pose a question:
1.    What is volume?
2.    What data might we need to collect to find the volume of an object?
3.    Let’s collect the data and analyse it
4.    Let’s now look for patterns and interpret results. Can we come up with our own formulas ourselves?
Changing the way we question allows great scope for developing key skills in the classroom.

2. Create an environment where students can make connections across the subject
Realising that no topic is stand-alone and that everything in maths is related removes the time pressure for study and revision. Watching students make this discovery is really rewarding. Devising your own resources with cross curricular links is hugely beneficial. When students begin to look for connections and links across maths you see a huge improvement in their problem-solving skills, and higher ordering thinking and reasoning. The hope is they can then apply their knowledge and skills outside the classroom.
3. Create rich tasks and encourage students to use different strategies. Introducing new topics through a problem and no other information encourages students to draw on what they already know. When you give them freedom to answer the question in any format they wish, you discover the different ways students learn. Some students revert back to graphs, tables and diagrams, others like to use formulas and algebra, and others like to describe using words.
4. Encourage students to discuss maths and justify their solutions. Rote learning has become redundant, and students are now expected to exchange and take part in collaborative problem solving. They need to be able to relate the maths they learn to real life concepts. By asking students to justify their solutions, rather than just giving the answer by following procedures, you are also assessing their language literacy. This can be challenging, but it offers a lot of scope for ‘’think, pair, share’’ learning and self-assessment.

In summary, the success of the implementation of project maths in our school can be attributed to the enthusiasm of all involved as well as the effective collaboration between teachers, the department head, the principal, the regional development officer, and last but not least the students themselves. Through Edmodo students could voice their concerns, look for advice and help and most of all share resources. They became facilitators of their own learning. I hope the sharing of my experience has been useful and I encourage you to use the tips in this video to start engaging in investigative, project-based learning to develop your students’ competences.

Remember that you can access further reading and related resources to this session from our course library. We also encourage you to visit the course forum where you can take part in an ongoing discussion linked to this topic with fellow participants and instructors.

Video Talk 4: Examples of project-based learning
Hello and welcome to this session. My name is Anne Gilleran and I come from Dublin in Ireland. I currently work at European Schoolnet as a Pedagogical Manager. However I have worked all my life in education, as a teacher, guidance counselor, school principal, and teacher trainer.
The projects I have chosen today as examples highlight how Key Competences may be developed through project-based learning or PBL for short. These examples come from the project eTwinning, funded by the European Commission, which is the largest community for teachers in Europe allowing schools to carry out projects together nationally and internationally.

In eTwinning a project is usually founded between two teachers from different European countries. Once it is registered the two founding teachers are then free to invite other teachers to join the project and all the work is carried out in an online workspace, called a TwinSpace. The underlying basis of the project work is that there will be a great deal of emphasis put on exchange and collaboration, not only between the teachers but also between their students. The focus is on inquiry-based learning and problem solving, often using authentic, real-life problems as a starting point. You can learn more about what eTwinning has to offer teachers by visiting the website

Of course this project work is also an ideal opportunity for teachers to work on the development of Key Competences in a practical and motivating way, and the examples I will talk about demonstrate very clearly, how different key competences can be approached in different ways and with different age levels. Each example has a video link, and a link to the work done which you can follow up on in your own time.

My first example involves students from the lower secondary school level age 12 – 15 year olds in a project called the Rainbow Village and for me it is a perfect example of how to develop social and civic competence in young people. In the project the students had to imagine they were living in a post Armageddon world, where they had to rebuild life in their newly created Rainbow Village.  The TwinSpace for this project  highlights the myriad of tasks the students carried out, from deciding the best situation for their village, drawing up the rules of their society and holding real time elections.   They thought deeply on social and justice issues and reflected on both the rights and responsibilities of citizens and their rulers.

The second project I have chosen to share with you is called Let your Passions Shine, and it involved quite young students aged 9 – 11.  As the title suggests, the work of the project permitted them to explore various subjects and develop their talent and skills around those subjects while feeling deeply involved in the project. There was a wide variety of topics and tasks, presented in a fun, creative and innovative way. I think this project really highlights one of the most difficult of the Key Competences to develop in young people, Learning how to Learn, as students were exposed to different ways of learning in various subjects. If you look at the working space for this project, available from the course library, you will find the range of topics from Art and Music to History, Science and Maths. The students had to explore each subject, and then work in an international team to set challenges for the whole group. During this process, the students learned how to develop their own ideas, and work to their own strengths.  Of course along the way the project also gave the opportunity for the development of other competences such as digital competence, and communication both in mother tongue and foreign languages.

My final two examples involve older students from the upper secondary level aged 16 – 19 years old. The first of these projects is called, Pek the traveller flea, with students from the vocational school sector in France, Spain , Italy, Portugal Czech Republic and Turkey, working together.  The project worked on developing competence in foreign languages, and cultural awareness and expression, through building the story of Pek and his travels in the form of a digital comic strip.  Of course digital competence also found a central role as you can see by looking at both the TwinSpace and the video available in the course library.

My final example is called Health for Life and features students aged between 15 and 19 from the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands.  I think this is a good example of how both Maths and Science competence can be tackled in an authentic rather than theoretical way for students. However, the project also fostered the sense of initiative and entrepreneurship competence, in the way if which it challenges the students to think for themselves and make their own judgments. The students carried out surveys on smoking, drug taking, sexual practices etc. among their peers, and ran lab experiments on the effects of various substances on the body. This is really well documented in the project TwinSpace  and you will get a real sense of the kind of commitment these students had by watching the video available in this course’s resource library.
I hope you will take the time to look at the examples I have described, and most importantly seriously think about adopting some of these approaches when you come to plan your own projects to foster Key Competences in both yourself and your students.
Remember, you can watch the teachers and students speak for themselves about the projects I’ve described in the videos and related resources available in our course library. We also encourage you to visit the course forum where you can take part in an ongoing discussion linked to this topic with fellow participants and instructors.

My name is Livia Di Nardo and I work at Junior Achievement - Young Enterprise (JA-YE), Europe’s largest provider of entrepreneurship education programmes, reaching 3.2 million students at primary, secondary, vocational and university level.
Investing in entrepreneurship education is one of the highest returns on investment Europe can make. According to the European Commission’s,  Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, all Member States should “Offer the opportunity to young people to have at least one practical entrepreneurial experience before leaving compulsory education, such as running a mini-company, being responsible for an entrepreneurial project or a social project”.
Searching for education strategies that can aid long-term growth and employability, the European Commission has identified mini-companies as a successful programme for fostering entrepreneurial education. The idea behind this is to involve students and teachers in setting up and running a “real” mini-company while being at school, through an education programme based on a clear set of steps and learning outcomes and mainly focused on learning-by-doing methodologies and practical application of students’ basic skills. Take a look at this short video explaining the mini-companies programme.

JA-YE Europe entrepreneurial activities cover all levels of education ensuring progression in entrepreneurship education from primary school to higher education.
Two factors are key for the success of entrepreneurial education programmes:
·         First: the engagement of volunteer mentors from enterprises to help students make the connection between what they are learning and the world outside school.
·         Second: Teachers have to become “learning facilitators” and work in teams with the business sector mentors.

Entrepreneurial teachers require active, learner-centred pedagogies and learning activities that use practical learning opportunities from the real world. This approach involves significant changes in the way teachers themselves are educated. Research carried out by the European Commission shows that the core skills and values linked to entrepreneurship education are seldom a priority in teachers’ education programs.
In the XXI century school, it is important for teachers to apply entrepreneurial learning methods and tools in any subject areas and for any age group. JA-YE is working a lot to support teachers to develop students’ entrepreneurial skills. One of its main initiatives for teachers is The Entrepreneurial School which aims to train teachers to teach in an entrepreneurial way, regardless of the subject they teach. To help them with this the project has developed a virtual guide for entrepreneurial learning. The Guide is a practical and useful tool for teachers in primary, secondary and vocational schools that want to mainstream entrepreneurial learning in teaching methods and learning processes they set up in the classroom every day.
·         The first section of the guide contains more than 100 tools and methods to support teachers implement entrepreneurial teaching and learning, including good practices and framework documents from 85 different schools in 10 countries. The tool is user-friendly and allows you to search for resources according to age level, subject area or country.
·         There is also a section where you can find best practice schools and case studies with examples of visions, plans and activities to be used in your own school.
·         In the Guide you can also find the most important strategy and policy documents on entrepreneurial learning at European or national level.
·         On top of this the Guide also provides you with relevant tools to assess your entrepreneurial teaching and check the quality of the entrepreneurial activities of your school.

The engine behind the Entrepreneurial School Guide is the community of educators across Europe working on entrepreneurial learning. Within the Virtual Guide, the tools and methods are presented and recommended by teachers for teachers. If you are a teacher and would like to start an entrepreneurial project in your school you can join our community and get your students equipped with the skills they will need to succeed in the world of work. Remember that you can access further reading and related resources to this session from our course library. We also encourage you to visit the course forum where you can take part in an ongoing discussion linked to this topic with fellow participants and instructors.

Your answers
1. A Project Based Learning activity often covers more than one subject area.
2. In a collaborative problem-solving task, as long as some of the members of the group are able to contribute their knowledge, experience and resources, the problem can be solved.
3. Group discussions and the development of language literacy are relevant to the teaching and learning of mathematics.
4. Technology is always the best medium through which to teach collaborative problem-solving.
5. Project-based learning gives ample opportunities for learners not only to be actively involved in their learning, but also to take responsibility for it.
6. In a collaborative problem-solving task it is only the teacher who should record the steps students take to resolve the problem.
7. Project-based learning is not very time consuming or challenging for the teacher.
8. Collaborative problem-solving requires social rather than cognitive skills.

Your answers
1. Project Based Learning must be multi-disciplinary (i.e. include more than one subject area).


2. In a collaborative problem-solving task each participant in the group possesses or controls a unique combination of knowledge, experience, and resources that are essential to the completion of the task.


3. Using a project-based learning approach to teach mathematics helps develop learners’ higher order reasoning and problem-solving skills.


4. Using technology to assess collaborative problem solving can be more effective than a face-to-face approach.


5. Learners should take initiative and be creative when carrying out a project, but at the start, it should always be the teacher who decides the issue or problem to be investigated, how students will work and what will be the project’s final product.


6. It is beneficial to ask students themselves to record their observations and the steps they take to solve the problem.


7. Project-based learning can be challenging and often requires a lot of time and the creation of new resources by teachers.


8. Collaborative problem-solving tasks can help learners develop both social and cognitive skills.


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