Why Sustainable Project-Based Learning is Like Drinking a Smoothie

5 Steps to Introduce SPBL Into Your Curriculum

by Brad Sever

As a parent, I struggle to get my kids to eat fruits and vegetables as often as they should. I know that many parents have mastered this art, I have not.

What I have found is that my kids will drink smoothies. They like smoothies with zero sugar vanilla Greek yogurt, strawberries, bananas, and protein powder. Maybe someday I will sneak in some kale just to see what happens. The truth is that having all of these healthy foods blended together makes it more practical and less overwhelming for them to eat healthier. They are much more likely to drink a smoothie than they are to eat a plate of bananas, strawberries, and a full cup of Greek yogurt.

This same idea of making things more practical and less overwhelming can be applied to the 5 Step Process of Sustainable Project-Based Learning.

Today, in schools educators have a lot on their plate in addition to all of the adjustments made for teaching through the pandemic. Initiatives on their plate include:

  • Participating in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).

  • Supporting students with their social and emotional well-being.

  • Implementing best practices in Unit and lesson design.

  • Considering best practices in assessment.

  • Participating in Multi-Tiered System of Support interventions.

  • Incorporating high-impact strategies (such as John Hattieā€™s Visible Learning Influences).

  • Ensuring students are either reading, writing, speaking, or listening on a daily basis.

Just like that full plate of bananas, strawberries, Greek yogurt, protein, and kale (again I have not tried this yet, but it is a goal), the 5 Steps of Sustainable Project-Based Learning create a process that encompasses multiple initiatives into one framework.

Brad Sever

About Brad Sever

Brad Sever is a national presenter, speaking on project-based learning, instructional coaching, and leadership. He has provided professional development for charter schools, urban, rural, and suburban schools for the last 10 years. In addition, he is a National Faculty member for PBLWorks (formerly the Buck Institute for Education). His practical approach to professional development comes from the variety of experiences and perspectives he has gained.