Throughout my work with teachers and administrators, coaching is how I help educators improve their systems and instructional practices. What follows is a special series that I will add to as a coaching log. The “stardate” is a tribute to Star Trek because coaching is similar in terms of the rich experiences of visiting many different schools. There is much knowledge to be exchanged. Rarely are there “red shirts”, but there are many heroes and those struggling to do right by learners.

These posts offer the resources that are shared so that they might help your school’s story. Drop in on the journey…


While supporting a school on Project-Based Learning, I saw much passion and desire to do a high quality job. Everyone was dedicated to making PBL units systemic. Implementing PBL can be a lonely journey. Yet, when educators band together, amazing things happen. As with many schools, the process takes time, patience, and a growth mindset. Below are resources to support their efforts to move forward with their PBL journey.

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Student Learning Wall Guide: Empowering Student Voice

From a systemic perspective the Student Learning Wall is important for consistent conversations with teachers about best practices for PBL and in traditional units. A starting point is to post the Driving Question, Need to Know list list generated by students, and the project calendar showing weekly tasks.

Collaboration as Learning

PBL units and fostering a student-centric culture needs a large toolkit. Explore student-led activities and approaches to teaching collaboration. This section has many rich resources to help understand how to teach, coach and assess collaboration.

Managing Innovative Authentic Learning Experiences

Most teachers talk about having an authentic audience for their project, along with a meaningful public product. The above link provides specific strategies for supporting effective management of a high functioning PBL unit.

Teachers commonly ask for a tool like this to empower students to handle team problems. The four steps involve students addressing issues. The teacher does not get involved in a formal fashion until the third step.
Entry Event
Launching the PBL unit at the “start” of the unit is critical. Here is one example of good use of videos for projects regarding Heroes:
Use the video to discuss the Super Hero archtype.
  1. What are characteristics of a super hero?
  2. What are characteristics of a super hero mindset?
  3. Why are some heroes more accepted by their public than others?
Use this video as a follow up to the one above. Consider these questions:
  1. What are characteristics of a hero?
  2. What makes an action heroic?
  3. Why do the lunch ladies appear heroic?
  4. How can anyone be heroic or a hero?
  5. How are ordinary heroes different and similar to super heroes?

Where Should I Start

When starting out implementing a Project-Based Unit, here is an important practice to start: composed of three steps that should be done:

Establish a Student Learning Wall

  1. Post and use the Driving Question
  2. Maintain a calendar of important tasks and deadlines for the week
  3. Need to Know is posted and reviewed several times a week.