Passion-Based Learning:

Extending the Classroom

We are no longer limited to the classroom and contained only by our imaginations!

"Learner-centered, lifelong learning has been the cry of knowledge society visionaries for the last decade. Yet learning continues to be delivered with teacher-centric tools in a twelve week format. Society is changing. Learners needs are changing. The course, as a model for learning, is being challenged by communities and networks, which are better able to attend to the varied characteristics of the learning process by using multiple approaches, orchestrated within a learning ecology." George Siemens

"When we design curriculum that is build around inquiry-driven, project-based learning, where students and teachers work together to create new meaning and deep understandings, then we can use 21st Century tools to allow students to create meaningful, creative and authentic work, using the best available research, while collaborating with and presenting to people from all over the world." Chris Lehmann

Definitions Related to Passion-based Learning

Passion (emotion), feeling very strongly about a subject or person, usually referring to feelings of intense desire and attraction.
Inquiry-based learning describes a range of philosophical, curricular and pedagogical approaches to teaching. Its core premises include the requirement that learning should be based around student questions. Teachers are viewed as facilitators of learning rather than vessels of knowledge. The teachers job in an inquiry learning environment is therefore not to provide knowledge, but instead to help students along the process of discovering knowledge themselves.
Project based learning, or PBL, is a constructivist pedagogy that intends to bring about deep learning by allowing learners to use an inquiry based approach to engage with issues and questions that are rich, real and relevant to their lives. This strategy is well served since the onset of the read/write Web. Teachers have ready made content easily available via the Web and the tools to allow for creative student directed creation of content related to the problems and questions contained in the project being studied.
Techno-constructivist are teachers who integrate technology into the curriculum so that it not only complements instruction but redefines it.
Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) is self-education or self-directed learning. An autodidact, also known as an automath, is a mostly self-taught person, as opposed to learning in a school setting.
School 2.0 goes beyond the practical discussion of applying the read/write and collaborative Web technologies in the classroom. It is, instead, a larger discussions of how education, learning, and our physical school spaces can (or should) change because of the changing nature of our social and economic lives brought on by these technologies.

Schooling for the 21st Century: Unleashing Student Passion

Lisa Duke's students at First Flight High School in the Outer Banks in NC created this video as part of a service project in her Civics and Economics course curriculum.

To hear directly from her students on how this project impacted them and their learning go to and search for Bonner Bridge.

Laura Stockman
25 Days to Make a Difference
Working Together to Make a Difference

Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture:Media Education for the 21st Century

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"For any given organization, the important questions are 'When will the change happen?" and "What will change?" The only two answers we can rule out are never, and nothing." --Clay Shirky

Change Brings Opportunity

A world where it is easy to form groups around the things that we are passionate about is a world where we can learn from and with the smartest people we can find from around the world whenever we need to or are ready to.

That goes for even our youngest children, who can not only change the world but change their own learning worlds in the process. (Laura Stockman)

And it goes for professional learning communities where participatory technologies allow us to connect quickly and easily to receive "just in time answers" and support. The kind of support that changes us for the better.

This is a world of networks.
And a world of communities.

Our premise is that for our students to be adequately prepared for their futures, they must not only know how to create, navigate and grow their own personal learning networks in safe, effective and ethical ways, but they must also be able to exist in, support and grow situated learning communities where they pursue their passionate, scholarly interests with a group of learners to whom they are committed.

In other words, understanding both networks and communities are crucial to learning in this connected world.

Networks are created through publishing and sharing ideas and connecting with others who share passions around those ideas who learn from each other.

Communities are different from networks in that they typically are situated learning communities are where people come together in groupings, build relationships, establish norms, manage knowledge and carry out activities in everyday life, in the workplace, and in education. Relationships are based on the idea of mutual engagement around a common interest or problem. The community is co-created by its members and grows and changes over time. Members develop a shared repertoire of resources and make a commitment to each other to improve. Sharing and co-creation of content is at the heart of a community building. Through the sharing of content and ideas and by working through a "None of us is as good as all of us" perspective a thriving community results that informs classroom practice and results in transformational change through a systemic lens.

How Do We Get There?

According to Shirky, there are four stages to mastering the connected world: sharing, cooperating, collaborating, collective action. What we want to talk about is how those for are important in the context of networks and communities.

Sharing is the key to connecting online, and it's a fundamental skill of network literacy. And the tools make sharing easy. But we need to understand sharing, however, in the context of what happens after we share. We share because we want to connect with others around our passions, not simply communicate. Our students future is that they become "clickable," findable by others.

When we think of students sharing, we think of Myspace, and of the problems that ensue. These are the early stages of networks.
Sharing leads to connecting which is the starting place for community building. Sharing is important within the context of communities as well. It leads to deeper understanding and movement along a developmental continuumof expertise.

Cooperation can take many forms, but it starts with working together toward a common goal. Cooperation can create classrooms that are global and not dependent on time or place.. Teachers come in all shapes and sizes. (Andrew from Perth, Scotland.)

Cooperation in communities allows many schools across an entire state to work together to create artifacts and thin walled classrooms.

Collaboration requires the best effort of those involved to build something together.

Collaboration within a community can result in outcomes that impact policy, influence working conditions, or result in a project that displays the "wisdom of the crowd" at its best.

Collective action in a community often results in positive global change.

Who is the 21st Century Educator?

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1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity

Teachers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments. Teachers:
promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness.
engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.
promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students' conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes.
model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments.

2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the NETS•S. Teachers:
design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.
develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress.
customize and personalize learning activities to address students' diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources.
provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching.

3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning

Teachers exhibit knowledge, skills, and work processes representative of an innovative professional in a global and digital society. Teachers:
demonstrate fluency in technology systems and the transfer of current knowledge to new technologies and situations.
collaborate with students, peers, parents, and community members using digital tools and resources to support student success and innovation.
communicate relevant information and ideas effectively to students, parents, and peers using a variety of digital-age media and formats.
model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning.

4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices. Teachers:
advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources.
address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources.
promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information.
develop and model cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with colleagues and students of other cultures using digital-age communication and collaboration tools.

5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources. Teachers:
participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning.
exhibit leadership by demonstrating a vision of technology infusion, participating in shared decision making and community building, and developing the leadership and technology skills of others.
evaluate and reflect on current research and professional practice on a regular basis to make effective use of existing and emerging digital tools and resources in support of student learning.
contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self-renewal of the teaching profession and of their school and community.

Additonal resources:

Self Assessment Rubric to use with your faculty

What are 21st Century Skills? Activity

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Video- Learning to Change: Changing to Learn

What do good schools look like - schools where all students are mastering skills that matter the most?


Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills as defined in his most recent book, The Global Achievement Gap.

If all students are to acquire these survival skills for success in the 21st Century, then what systemic changes must take place in our schools and classrooms? What do good schools look like - schools where all students are mastering skills that matter the most?
Give examples and evidence of how you currently incorporate each of these skills into your current classroom practice.

Critical thinking and problem-solving

Collaboration across networks and leading by influence

Agility and adaptability

Initiative and entrepreneurialism

Effective oral and written communication

Accessing and analyzing information

Curiosity and imagination


Other lists of Essential Instructional Activities

Marzano's Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works

Integrating Technology with Marzano

TPCK Model

This is about getting technology into the classroom. We know from diffusions of innovation literature that this is probably the toughest part. Luckily, there's a new model that helps us think about how to develop technological pedagogical content knowledge. You can learn more about this model at the website:

Last year SIGTE held a webinar featuring Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler discussing their work with TPACK (Technological, Pedagogical Content Knowledge).
Technology Integration in Teaching: The TPACK Framework (webinar archive) a729309453/p92764644

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Technologically Integrated Planning-NECC Webcast (Judi Harris & Mark Hofler)
Presentation at NECC with handouts.

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Web2.0 that Works

Developed by Stephanie Sandifer (author of Change Agency)

Web2.0 that Works
NECC Presentation

Classroom Instruction That Works is a collection of effective strategies culled from a meta-analysis of decades of research on what works in classrooms to improve student learning and increase student achievement. This meta-analysis was conducted by Robert J. Marzano, Debra J. Pickering, and Jane E. Pollock. They combined these effective strategies into nine broad categories and Stephanie correlated them with Web 2.0 tools.

Andrew Churches work on Bloom's Taxonomy

Levels of Technology Integration into the Classroom
The Technology Integration Matrix
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2007.

Tools and more tools


Share, Connect, Collaborate, Collective Action


Laura Stockman
25 Days to Make a Difference
Working Together to Make a Difference

Additional Resources

Classroom Instruction That Works
Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works
Using Technology With Classroom Instruction That Works
The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction (Robert J. Marzano)
Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally (by Andrew Churches, April 1, 2008, published in techLearning)
Technology Integration Matrix
Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms (Will Richardson)
Classroom Blogging: 2nd Edition (David Warlick)
Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools (Gwen Solomon, Lynne Schrum)
National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)
Teach Web 2.0 Consortium
Jordan District Wiki Page for Web 2.0


How Do You Do It?

Setting the Stage- KWL

TPCK Model

1. Get in groups by discipline. Electives (pick a group to join or work together in a group)
2. What are the Essential Instructional Activities you typically use in your discipline?
(explore the resources provided in key elements if needed to create your list)
3. Have a discussion and list possible Web 2.0 tools that fit nicely with your disciplines essential instructional activities.
4. Report Out

Guided Practice

Collaborative SuperBowl Unit

Creating Mini-Units of Inquiry

5. Looking at national and state standards choose possible topics and a couple possible objectives you could cover under this topic (this will be adjusted).
6. Decide on a passion-based theme for your unit. (Skateboarding to teach landforms, simple machines, geometry, bios of skateboarders, geogrpahy of where they live, etc.)
7. Create a topical map and then a subject map (choose one or two areas to develop learning activities) Mind Mapping Tools
8. Decide on a kickoff activity -Arouse students’ curiosity and interest with stimulating introduction. Consider visual display of theme as well as introductory activities.
9. Create 2-3 learning activities that teach the objectives you selected from standards. Use Web 2.0 tools as the participatory medium. How will you evaluate mastery of the objectives? Make sure your activities are cross curricular in nature.
10. Decide on a culminating event. Make sure your event includes others and highlights student created artifacts.

Project Based Learning

MIT distinguished professor Seymour Papert is among a growing group of scholars who support project-based learning, in which students move from hands-on work to abstract thinking by solving real-world problems.

Other videos:

Project Based Learning

Planning for Inquiry-based Learning

Overview of Inquiry Driven Approach

Think: Share, Connect, Collaborate, Collective Action

Principles for 21st Century Education

Mark Nichols in New Zealand
  1. Individualisation – adaptability to the learning needs of the individual.
  2. Meaningful Interactivity – providing opportunities for students to apply what they are learning.
  3. Shared Experience – enabling students (and encouraging them) to learn from one another.
  4. Flexible and Clear Course Design – preparing the entire course with a view to maximising student control while still providing clear expectations.
  5. Learner Reflection – encouraging students to mentally engage with course concepts and to consider their progress.
  6. Quality Information – providing actual content that is accurate and especially designed to facilitate understanding.

Essential Learning Functions- Essential learning with Digital Tools, the Internet and Web 2.0
    1. Ubiquity
    2. Deep learning
    3. Making things visible and discuss-able
    4. Expressing ourselves, sharing ideas, building community
    5. Collaboration – Teaching and learning with others
    6. Research
    7. Project Management
    8. Reflection and Iteration

Participatory Media Education Resources

Research Projects and Articles

Youth-led Programs and Projects

Teaching resources

What is PBL?

According to Wikipedia, Project based learning, or PBL, is a constructivist pedagogy that intends to bring about deep learning by allowing learners to use an inquiry based approach to engage with issues and questions that are rich, real and relevant to their lives. This strategy is well served since the onset of the read/write Web. Teachers have ready made content easily available via the Web and the tools to allow for creative student directed creation of content related to the problems and questions contained in the project being studied.

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's Guiding Documents for PBL

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These documents are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
Characteristics of Creative People
Learning Experiences Chart
Evaluation Critera
Guidelines for Planning Meaningful Learning Experiences
Guidelines for Selecting PBL Topics
Guidelines for Developing PBL Units
Evaluation Checklist for PBL Units
PowerPoints I have used to explain PBL and techno-constructivism

"The main problem is not the absence of innovation in schools, but rather the presence
of too many disconnected, episodic, fragmented, superficially adorned projects."Fullan, M., (2001), The New Meaning of Educational Change, New York: Teachers’ College Press

Examples of Cross Curricular Units

Trace Your Trash
Our Lost Children


Ways to Document and Share Your Projects

Blog to Document

Wiki to Document

Podcast to Document


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Project Sites

Lesson Plans

Suggested Readings Around Constructivist Approaches

Dr. Judi Harris' Telementoring Project
Inquiry Based Learning resources
Edutopia’s tech integration resources
The Big List
Edutopia Reverse Mentorship
Kids teach teachers
PBL Checklist
PBL Checklist
PBL Templates
Planning Form
Implementation Tools
Fine Tune
Tuning Activity
PBL Rubrics

PBL Curriculum
Shambles E-Learning
Building Web 2.0 Classrooms
K12 Online

PBL Suggested Readings

In project-based learning, students work in teams to explore real-world ... New Skills for a New Century
Checklists to support Project Based Learning and evaluation
PBL Module
The Project-Based Learning (PBL) module is designed for either a two- to three-hour class or session or a one- to two-day workshop, and is divided into two parts.
SRI International Evaluation
Project-based learning with multimedia
Expeditionary Learning Schools Outward Bound
Comprehensive K-12 educational design. Our approach combines rigorous academic content and real world projects -- learning expeditions -- with active teaching and community service.Schools using this approach showed significant test score gains
Jamie McKenzie
questioning, sound intelligence, strategic reading and quality teaching
The Multimedia Project
Project-Based Learning with Multimedia: "Why Do Project-Based Learning?
The Project Approach
Sylvia Chard
Project-Based Learning
Buck Institute for Education
Criteria for Authentic Project-Based Learning
Star Center
ISTE Research Projects
The Road Ahead (Project-Based Learning)
PBL Overview
PBL at EdTech Project Overview
PBL Unit and Lesson Plan Templates
Design and Invention Center
PBL w/ Tech
THE CHALLENGE: Can you, using your grade level science material, links given below, any other current information you can find, and your state and national standards, design a fairly comprehensive PBL unit (more details below) that (a) teaches the science you are supposed to be teaching, (b) does so in a PBL framework, and (c) gets your students to answer the driving question: How can my household lower our energy use by 5%? And what will it cost (in comfort, convenience, and money)?
Designing Developing a PBL Unit.
Illinois Science and Mathematics Academy tutorial & guidelines.
Problem Based Learning
Technology School Of the Future, Adelaide, Australia.