This section provides starter questions that you can use to get students engaged in a PBL project. Questions Starters Stems are potential questions to start engaging students in problem based learning,  Questions starters are questions related that can help guide projects and project starters are examples of PBL. The last section of the module you will find two full step by step PBL projects aligned with standards. 

Question Starter Stems:

Question stems can be used to engage students identifying their own projects, or to introduce a PBL activity.

    • How  can ______ improve  _______?
    • How can ______ be applied to ______?
    • How can ______ change ______?
    • How would you design a new ______?
    • How does ______ affect ______?
    • What impact did/does ______ have on ______ ?
    • What makes a good/effective ______?
    • How do/does ______ impact my community?
    • What is the relationship between ______ and ______?
    • What would ______ be without ______?
    • If you were in charge of ______, what would you change?
    • How can you use ______ to inspire ______?
    • How might your community change if ______?

Question Starters:

    • How can we make our community sweeter?
    • How do stories from the past define who we are today?
    • What new monument or museum should be built in our city to enhance the lives of our citizens and visitors?
    • How can we create a more sustainable, efficient, healthy modern ecosystem?
    • How can we manage scarcity?
    • How can we create "farm to table" at our school during the winter months?
    • How can we build community?
    • How can we make getting around in the winter more safe and convenient?
    • I what ways can I change the injustices I witness?
    • What's the fastest and cheapest and healthiest way for me to get to school on time?

Project Starters:


Project #1: Here's an idea suitable for any school that is overdue for a makeover. The teacher behind this idea has built in constraints to force creativity: proposals must make the building more efficient and student-friendly. Students will apply their understanding of math and art to generate scale drawings, which they'll pitch to school administrators (along with proposed budgets and rationale or justification for the change). I can also imagine students making prototypes in a makerspace or using an online tool like SketchUp to generate plans. 


Project #2: 
This project challenges "big kids" (grades 4-5) to enhance the health of preschool kids by proposing creative ways to encourage more outdoor play. I can imagine how a strategy like design thinking would be useful for helping students understand the perspective of their intended audience (in this case, preschoolers and their teachers or daycare providers). For final products, students might produce an online guide to local parks, or lead play days in which they would demonstrate games or activities to get little guys and their caretakers outdoors.

Project #3: This project invites students to be innovators. Where do they see opportunities for local improvements? How can they use engineering principles to design and model improved purposes for empty lots or blighted spaces? Student investigations are likely to include surveys, interviews, prototyping, collaboration, and more as they take on this real-world challenge and share their results with local decision makers. The same project could incorporate social studies or economics by having students consider the stories behind specific places. What used to occupy now-vacant spaces? What changed? What was lost?

Project #5: Solving ‘screen time’ for yourself and family? This projects invites students to explore screen time for themselves, family, and friends. Student explore and apply their understanding of the how screen time impacts the brain as well as the psychological and social impacts of screen time. 

Project #6: Grade 1-2 - Healthy eating campaign, (drinking water challenge for the school and community science eliminating plastics recycling, earth science or reducing sugary foods and drinks). 

Project #7: Create a solution or project that has students identify and effectively communicate and resolve conflicts. Projects could include a class bulletin board or a school-wide conflict resolution advocacy program with posters and practice of conflict resolution skills.   



Full Problem Based Learning Examples:

How do we Feel?

Comprehensive Health Education Standard: 

Standard 3: Social and Emotional Wellness

1st Grade: Demonstrate how to express emotions in healthy ways. 

Kindergarten: Recognize the relationship between emotions and actions.

Background: Many kindergarteners and first graders struggle with identification and expressions of emotions.

Vocabulary: Emotions, anxious, sad, angry 

Integration: Art , Literacy 

Health Skills: self- management, interpersonal communication 

Project Introduction:  Read a book where the character might show emotions through words, faces, and even actions. 

  • Example :  No David  or Sad Monster, Glad Monster 
  • Class discussion discussing how they knew the character wasn’t feelling good or showed their feelings. What did those characters do when they were feeling a certain way 
Prompt: Could we as a class create a poster that we can use to help identify our feelings and help in knowing what to do when they feel that way?

Need to Know List:
After the introduction, discuss what we might need to learn and need in order to complete this for our class.

    • Logistical: These questions are typically questions about timeline, and restraints. What materials can we use? How big should our poster be?, Who is this for ? 

    • Informational: These questions are driven by the need to understand the content. What are our different feelings?, What is the best way for us to calm down when upset, lift us up when we are sad?


Resources to Consider for this PBL:


Students Can: 

Create a poster to express feelings , system to express feelings 

Potential Ideas for Project 

    • I feel ….   Students could make the face  or create a paper plate monster with the face of the feeling 
    , a picture of a student asking a question to the teacher, Breathing ( 10 seconds ), advocacy ideas 

Essential Question:  How can we better communicate with one another how we are feeling in our classroom and what to do when we have certain feelings. 

Prompt:  Create a visual interpretation for feelings  the class to use as an anchor chart for our class to know what to do.



School Wide Sensory Station : 1st Grade kindergarten grade (1-2 weeks)

Comprehensive Health Education Standard: 

Standard 3: Social and Emotional Wellness

1st Grade: Demonstrate how to express emotions in healthy ways. 

Kindergarten: Recognize the relationship between emotions and actions.

Background: The smaller PBL is designed to focus on identification on emotions, where this PBL goes a step further than identification by asking students to apply this knowledge with creation of an interactive sensory course for their school to use. This PBL could be trimmed by introducing and asking for a solution from a class for a class obstacle course or using this model to create something for the whole school to use. Students will demonstrate knowledge of emotions, expression of emotions, connections to actions. The goal to create a classroom community that respects the feelings of others by building empathy and ways to foster personal awareness.

Vocabulary: Emotions, control, feelings, express/expression, actions 

Integration: This PBL is considered a cross-content focus with Physical Education standard: Movement Competencies,  Math - Shapes, cardinal numbers , adding , measuring, English Language Arts - Communication, non-fiction reading and writing

Health Skills: Advocacy, Self-Management, Communication

Students Can: 

  • Identify and explain a variety of emotions 
  • Recognize that feelings influence actions
  • Identify and demonstrate appropriate ways to express emotions and cope with strong feelings

Essential Questions: 

  • How does a person control their feelings?
  • How do my actions affect others ?
  • How does the way I feel change how I act?
Public Audience:

The intended audience for this project should be fellow classmates, whole school, or principal.

Introductory Activity/Entry Event: 

The Entry event for this PBL could begin with a problem, preferably one that has surfaced from a morning meeting or restorative circle. 

Develop Driving Question: 

Explain to the students that this problem from circle could be a great opportunity for us to feel better about developing our classroom community. We should begin by exploring Emotions.

    • What were some of the times that made you feel… sad, mad, frustrated, anxious hurt ?
    • What helped you feel better ?
    • How could we help each other deal with our feelings
Driving Question Example: How can we create a Sensory Obstacle course for the whole school (or class)?

Need to Know List: In order to study all aspects of the issue, we will need to first develop a “need to know” list. A need to know list is an excellent tool to build buy-in for students. This is because the list will be the driver of what the class will learn. Most of what you plan will be determined by the development of the need to know list. However, if students don’t write down questions that are specific to what you need to learn about, it is completely acceptable to prompt them to think about certain learning objectives you would like them to learn about.

You can separate the list into two categories: 

      • Logistics- These are questions that are specific to requirements of the project. For example, Where would this obstacle course be located, How Big?
      • Informational-These are questions that focus on the objective of the learning. For example, why would someone need this course? 
 Project Introduction:

Introduce the project Prompt/Driving question and form examples with the students regarding potential ideas for the work of the obstacle course. Possible ideas could be: Groups of students create different sections of the course and what it could look like 

This might be a time to add additional questions to the driving question list.

Potential Activities

  • Explore different emotions : Read Aloud -Resources: The Way I Feel by Jane Cain
  • Students explore ways to control strong feelings. 
  • Research sensory stations and obstacle courses
  • Research what makes an effective sensory station?


Title : Recess Revamp : 3-5th grade ( 3 weeks )

Comprehensive Health Education Standards

Standard 3 Social and Emotional Wellbeing 

5th grade GLE's  

  • Utilize knowledge and skills to enhance mental, emotional, and social well-being.
  • Analyze internal and external factors that influence mental and emotional health.

Standard 4 Prevention and Risk Management

  • Demonstrate pro-social behaviors that reduce the likelihood of physical fighting, violence, and bullying.
  • Demonstrate basic first aid and safety procedures.

Background: This unit will address and help create community within a building or a grade level. Statistically, most issues concerning fighting, arguing, and bullying happen at recess. Many of these issues are brought back into the classroom causing lack of focus and other distractions. Students can examine many aspects of the benefits of recess to their brain and their body in this unit. However the key understanding is around emotional health. 

Vocabulary: Assertive, passive, aggressive communication, body language, effective communication, listening skills, advocacy, physical activity, peer mediation, safety.

Integration: 

Social Studies:  Civics and citizenship built on respect 

Physical Education: Safety during physical activity

Math / Science: Analyzing data, graph interpretation 

Reading, Writing and Communicating: Communication:  Nonfiction reading and research, effective communication skills. 

Health Skills: Interpersonal Communication, Decision Making , Analyzing Influences, Advocacy 

Students Can: 

  1. Analyze how 

Essential Question: 

  • How can we create a problem free recess ? 
  • What structures could we create and provide to increase equity, safety, health and decrease emotional stress and fighting 

Prompt: 

How can we make the school safer?

 Some examples could be:

Product Options
Written Products
Presentation Products Media & Tech Products

Research Report
Letter
Awareness Campaign
Brochure
Script
Blog/Editorial
Book Review
Training Manual
Math/Eng. Analysis
Science Study/Experiment   
Field Guide
Statistical Analysis



Speech
Debate
Oral Defense
Live Newscast
Panel Discussion
Play
Musical Piece or Dance  
Lesson
Public Event
Sales Pitch

Audio Recording
Slideshow
Drawing/Painting
Graphic Design
Collage/Scrapbook
Photo Essay
Video/Animation
Website
Computer Program/App  
Digital Story/Comic


Constructed Products
Planning Products Other

Small Scale Model

Consumer Product
Device/Machine
Invention
Museum Exhibit
Structure



Speech

Proposal
Business Plan
Design
Bid
Estimate
Blueprint
Timeline
Flow Chart




Public Audience:   The audience for this unit project will be the School Accountability group, or School Leadership committee. The decisions/products can be presented in a variety of different multimedia. 

Introductory Activity/Entry Event: 

The entry event for this PBL could be a graph that shows the class data from recess and referrals or write ups? After students have discussed a problem and a Driving Question. Students create a Need to Know list, dividing between Logistics, and Informational . 

Develop Driving Questions: 
  • Explain to students that we, as a class, will explore safety and injury prevention in schools:
Need to Know List: In order to study all aspects of the issue, we will need to first develop a “need to know” list. A need to know list is an excellent tool to build buy-in for students. This is because the list will be the driver of what the class will learn. Most of what you plan will be determined by the development of the need to know list. However, if students don’t write down questions that are specific to what you need to learn about, it is completely acceptable to prompt them to think about certain learning objectives you would like them to learn about.

You can separate the list into two categories: 

      • Logistical  - What can we change?  Whole school or Grade level. These questions are specific to the project such as time frame and group work 
      • Informational - These are questions that focus on the objective of the learning. For example, “What does the research say about recess?” “What games create a safe recess” “What programs could we follow to help solve problems at recess?”

Potential Activities/ Resources to Consider for this PBL:



Last modified: Tuesday, 12 January 2021, 3:02 PM