Project Based Learning and the Flipped Classroom… A Great Combination!

Project Based Learning and the Flipped Classroom… A Great Combination!

A big shout out to all of you I had a chance to meet at FETC 2018 in Orlando. Also, a big thank you to the over 400 that attended my workshops and sessions. While I was at FETC I ran into Jon Bergmann who is best known for his work on the Flipped Classroom. We had our usual talk on ideas that support both PBL and Flipped Learning. In fact, you can listen to several webcasts we have been part of in the past in the links below. It reminded me that I wanted to write a post dedicated to the idea of how PBL and Flipped Learning really can be a powerful mix. I hope you enjoy the read and discover how the two can compliment and amplify each other! As always, thanks so much for reading and sharing! I wish you the very best of weeks as you continue your journey of educational transformation! – Mike

Project Based Learning and Flipped Classroom… A Great Combination (

Have you ever considered flipping your classroom and engaging students in Project Based Learning at the same time? As I study these learning processes I see possibilities that allow the two to not only coexist, but also complement each other. How might this work? They do share similar emphasis on higher order thinking skills. Another not so obvious way the two can complement each other is based on productivity and time. Let’s take a closer look.

As you might know Project Based Learning (PBL) is a dynamic process that allows students to learn and understand content at Bloom’s highest level while taking an active part in their learning. The process uses the BIE Gold Standards as a foundation. PBL provides for deep inquiry, which leads to rich and powerful understanding. Through authentic experiences, and a driving question that engages students with content standards, PBL has the ability to be a delivery method for the student centered classroom. In PBL, formative learning activities occur throughout the project. This allows for productivity between content delivery, facilitation, and student production. Of course this all takes time! How might we increse the productivity for both teacher and learner in PBL? A flipped infusion just might be the answer.

As you might already know the Flipped Classroom was first coined with the idea that class lectures are recorded and watched at home while the teacher assists students with homework in school. Technology makes this very basic scenario a real possibility. Through the years the Flipped Classroom concept has become more sophisticated with an increased benefit to the student. While lectures still may be ported for home use, teachers have found powerful ways to utilize in class time beyond just homework help. The Flipped Classroom has become more of a Flipped Learning experience. This can be discovered more in the Four Pillars of Flipped Learning. While instructional videos may be viewed at home they can also shorten the “expain time” in class. Either way teachers have the opportunity to employ higher order learning activities at school. It is these activies that I often refer to as “real learning”.

As we look at the process of PBL and Flipped Learning we can begin to see how the two together can promote Bloom’s higher order learning. Together they provide a streamlining of valuable time, which in turn allows for increased productivity. As we continue to examine this concept several other added benefits are accomplished.

As teachers combine the PBL and Flipped experience, they see learning spiral. This allows teachers the opportunity to bring the both the home and in class learning experience up a notch. Students can be provided open-ended questions, engaging interactive activities, and front loaded thought-provoking videos at home that can spur deeper classroom discussions and activities for the next class period. This blended experience erases the classroom walls allowing for an authentic and constant learning experience.

Instructional videos, while still used at home, can also be incorporated as part of the PBL scaffold during class time. After-all, research has demonstrated that an instructional video can be more time productive than a live lecture. Yes, there is often a need for explaination, after inquiry! Plus, there is also the added benefit of the student able to pause, rewind, and replay the instruction. Try that in a lecture. Please note that the teacher is still available for face to face time in order to provide any reinforcement needed in the learning process.

In this day of what appears to be numerous educational initiatives, it is exciting to see how the two are able to work in harmony with each other. In fact, as we further reflect we just might see how other initiatives such as 21 century competencies (4 C’s), technology integration, digital curriculum and literacy, 1 to 1 computing, PBL, and Flipped Learning really do blend as one. They all allow for authentic learning putting the student in the driver seat!

In closing, we just may wish to ask, how many educational initiatives there really are? Perhaps there are not as many as we originally thought. It may be time for you to see how PBL and Flipped Learning really can work in productive harmony. After implementing these two practices, you may wish to work on student centered learning next. Or perhaps you will find that you just did it!

PBL and STEM Webinars/Podcasts

PBS Learning Media: Flipped Classrooms For Real Learning: Definitions, Resources and Tools – Educators keep hearing about the benefits of flipping their classrooms, but what does that really mean? PBS Learning Media invites you to join Jon Bergmann, a pioneer in the Flipped Class Movement and co-author of Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day – along with Mike Gorman, a 21st century educational technology and learning expert.

BAM Radio Interview with Michael Gorman – Listen to Jon Bergmann author of Flip Your Classroom interview Michael Gorman who has served education for 37 years and has partnered with ISTE and various educational, governmental, and business organizations and foundations. He initiated a 1:1 laptop program along with PBL in Southwest Allen County Schools near Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is also a consultant for Discovery Education, ISTE, Follet, and November Learning. Mike is on the National Faculty for BIE (BUCK Institute) and an Adviser for Tech & Learning Magazine.

ISTE Presentation of PBL 8 Essentials With Michael Gorman – Join Mike at ISTE in Atlanta as he shares the 8 essential elements found in PBL. This is a must video for those wanting to get started with PBL

Organizations and Individuals

BIE – Learn more about PBL at the BUCK Institute. It is an amazing organization conducting some of teh best research and teacher education programs in the world!

Flipped Learning Network – Spend some time lerning about the Four Pillars of Flipped learning while engaging in this websites many resources.

Cycles of Learning – This is a must visit blog for anyone that has an interest in Flipped, PBL and Inquiry.

Edutopia – Learn all about Project Based Learning from the amazing people at Edutopia. You will discover lessons, videos, and thought provoking articles that will peak your PBL interest!

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Michael Gorman oversees one-to-one laptop programs and digital professional development for Southwest Allen County Schools near Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a consultant for Discovery Education, ISTE, My Big Campus, and November Learning and is on the National Faculty for The Buck Institute for Education. His awards include district Teacher of the Year, Indiana STEM Educator of the Year and Microsoft’s 365 Global Education Hero. Read more at