Learning Adventure (2) – Backwards Design


1. Who are you working with? What is your topic for the learning adventure? Choose one representative and share the info here. Then read other group’s ideas so you may advance your ideas.

2. You were asked to explore one article (or video) about PBL. What were the important take-home messages you found? What is project based learning ? Why does project-based learning even matter? How does this apply to your Learning Adventure?

We will do a “chalk talk” about your lessons. A chalk talk is a silent way of contributing to a class discussion. Draw lines to connect to classmates’ ideas and words to elaborate or express your ideas. You can come to the board more than once.


Choose one representative to create a new Google site (not a new page in your current site) and do the following:

  • Make sure the title of your site reflects the nature of your adventure.
  • Share permissions within your site with your group members. You will want to make sure everyone can make edits. 1) Go to your Site, 2) click on “share,” 3) add people (gmail accounts) and 4) let them be “owner”(s).
  • Make sure your navigation bar reflects the sections in the rubric: Author Introduction, Inquire, Hook, Organize, Explore, Show What you Know, Finding a Career, and Parent Teacher Letter.
  • Don’t worry about the order or menus for now. We will have time to correct the order at the end.
  • Copy and paste your write-up of the “INQUIRE” section if you are ready.

STEP TWO: Backwards design – Work on the “Show What You Know” section

Sometimes the best way to figure out what/how you want to teach is to first figure out what you want students to be able to do. When you’re cooking, most of the time you decide what you want to eat BEFORE you get together your ingredients, right? Just as we choose a recipe by looking at pictures, a lot of kids will also choose your adventure based on the project they will complete.

But what are the characteristics of a good project-based learning activity? Let’s Watch the video on Applying Math Skills to a Real-World Problem. What evidence do you see that this is a good project? You may want to check this article.

Now it is time to brainstorm your project ideas. 1) Let’s tease out from your essential questions (big ideas) important knowledge, skills, and procedures you students might be able to achieve while answering the questions. Flesh out the ideas and turn them into projects (tasks) your student might complete. Or 2) you may want to figure out the final outcomes first and then revisit and advance your ideas questioning what knowledge, skills, and procedures you students might be able to achieve at the end.

Your students may create a Glogster poster to show how they define a hero. Or they may create a video to talk about recycling. Maybe you’ll encourage your student to start a blog to help other middle schooler’s learn how to make and keep their friends. Of course, it’s nice to offer them choices within your adventure. Here’s a long list of project ideas. Read about Twenty Ideas for Engaging Projects for more ideas. Just make sure that your project have a clear LEARNING FOCUS.


1. Complete creating your Google site for the learning adventure.
2. Copy and paste your write-up of the INQUIRE section of your adventure. Refer to the rubric for specific instructions. Double-check the Essential Question Development Checkpoint list here to make sure you’ve written a high quality essential question. You may want to read this article about writing effective driving questions.
3. Continue working on your “Show What you Know” section. Refer to the rubric for specific instructions.

ON FRIDAY: Find good resources for the “Hook” and “Explore” sections

Class will not meet, but your group will meet to find resources to help your students to complete the projects. (The lab will be opened.)

Once you have an essential question and a project in mind, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to help students come up with an answer to your question and show you what they know (i.e. what they believe the answer is) with some type of project. On Friday, your group meet and find interactive games, activities, and other resources to use in the “Hook” section and the “Explore” section. Make sure to check and read the Class blog on Friday. Also, double-check your learning adventure with the rubric.

Remember, these are two great examples to use if you need help deciding what to include on each page (though you will find their menus and requirements are set up slightly different, but the premise is the same):

Health Adventure: You Are What You Eat

Adventure in the Wilderness

<Schedule for remainder of semester>

  • Friday, April 12 – Group work day. Class does not meet. Work on the “hook” / “explore” sections.
  • Monday, April 15 – We’ll figure out how to guide / organize students’ exploration (“Organize” section).
  • Wednesday, April 17 – We will work on the “Apply” and “Parent/Teacher Letter” sections.
  • Friday, April 19 – Group work day. Class does not meet. Film the “Author Introduction.” Keep working on other sections.
  • Monday, April 22 – Last day of Learning Adventure. Final preparation for showcase.
  • Wednesday, April 24 – Learning Adventure due. Presentation I
  • Friday, April 26 – Last day of class. Presentation II
    (Another final assignment due Friday. I will let your know the assignment next week so you may start working on it. It won’t be daunting at all. Also remember you will be asked to write a 2-3 paragraph final update on your progress towards your social media identity goals)

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