The Power of Partners In Project-Based Learning

Meet the Makers

Michael Niehoff, Maker Team Advisor

Michael is a lifelong learner who advocates for authentic learning and student agency. Michael creates content and coaches for iLEAD Schools and Maker Learning Network. He is also a regular columnist for Getting Smart and EdSurge. Michael is a Google Certified Innovator who has been a teacher, advisor, director, site leader, coach, and adult professional learning facilitator. His students, programs and school sites have been recognized by Apple, Google, CUE, NASSP, NOD, AMAE, CLHS, CSBA, CVCUE, CADA, JEA and many others. 

The Why

We often hear the words “collaboration” or “teamwork” described as essential skills in 21st Century careers. Indeed, many in private industry — including the Fortune 500 companies — consider it to be potentially the most important skill. According to many experts in the employment field, the number one reason people get fired is because of one’s inability to work effectively with their co-workers or team members. However, collaboration does not just involve our peers. It involves a plethora of potential team members. Project-based learning certainly designs learning experiences and opportunities for students to collaborate with one another. However, it also creates unique and powerful opportunities for learners to collaborate with professionals, experts, business leaders, government officials, non-profit agencies, higher education and many others as they pursue more relevant and deeper learning.

This Week’s Focus

Driving Question

How can we involve and effectively incorporate more partners in our project-based learning?

One of the many ways to enhance, maximize, and advance project-based and deeper learning is to extend the student work outside of the classroom. And one of the best ways to do that is to involve outside partners in our projects. Partners — these professionals, experts, business leaders, government officials, nonprofit agencies and many others — can serve in a variety of roles.

These can include, but are not limited to guest speakers, project advisors, content or subject experts, mentors, feedback providers, resource developers, co-designers, and clients. Indeed, the more we partner with others in our community, the more likely our students will be addressing real world problems that others engage in on a daily basis.

You want authentic, real world learning? Then let’s have our students working on the same problems that the professionals face regularly.


Deep Community Partnerships Leads To Authentic PBL

Where Do Community Partners Fit Into My PBL?

Being Makers

Being Makers

Being Makers is a team of change-making leaders from Maker Learning Network and iLEAD Schools focused on project-based learning and social-emotional growth.
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