During our conferences just after teaching this unit, all of us heard a lot of feedback from parents reporting
that their children were becoming more active in solving problems at home. This matched what we were
seeing and still see at the end of the school year. Students who take ownership and find proactive and
constructive approaches to solving problems that emerge in our classroom community. We were also
thrilled by the high level of student engagement and ownership in learning that we observed in this unit.
Here are a few insights we think we’ve gained from prototyping this PBL unit and using a design thinking
You can read about PBL and talk about PBL and plan a PBL unit, but there’s nothing like teaching
a unit to gain understanding about how it’s different for students and different for teachers.
Mutual interest and excitement between teachers and students during a PBL unit increases the
ownership and engagement for students and teachers.
We felt that creating and framing the driving question was crucial to the success of the unit.
We think the skill of improvisation was an important skill for us to have while teaching and
planning a PBL unit. We had to react and respond creatively to best to support students’ different
projects as we shifted from just thinking of ideas to implementing their different action plans.
Using children’s literature was powerful. It resulted in many productive class conversations about
conflict and conflict resolution.
Connecting with other groups and experts in our building allowed our students to see lots of
models of thinking and action that our students learned from.
We also felt that having a context that was meaningful to all of us helped us develop shared
Manifesto. (n.d.). Manifesto Project. Retrieved June 4, 2014, from