PBL Course - Teacher Academy
Angeliki Kougiourouki
Learning Diary

This is....me

I am Angeliki and I work as a primary school teacher in 1rst Experimental Primary School, in Alexandroupolis, NorthEast Greece. I am not an expert in technology but I love to integrate it as well as new methods in my teaching. I also love to do projects with my pupils concerning environment, sience or history.

Uuuppsss, I forgot the trading card...

...this is my school!!

I teach in 1rst Exmerimental Primary school for about 12 years now. It is the school that I started years ago...as a pupil....
My school's building is one of the greatest and oldest classical buildings of Alexandroupolis. It is the building of the Academy of Pedagogical Studies which took the name from the donor George Zarifis.
My school's main purpose is to become a vibrant learning organization, a creative community of students, teachers, parents, and knowledge.
In this school attend pupils aged 7-12 years old and from 1rst till 6th grade. During the day pupils learn about Greek language, grammar and literature, math's, history, science, geography and they are doing religious lessons. Pupils are also learning English, German and French. They learn simple things about computers and web tools in the school computer lab. During the week they have the chance to come in contact with arts: they attend music course and they have the opportunity to express ourselves through theater and painting. They are also doing gym. After the formal program pupils have also the chance to attend courses in learning clubs.

My school is near the sea, in Alexandroupolis...the same is my home...

1. What is PBL and why use it?

1.1 What is PBL?

Project Based Learning Vs Projects.... Which is the best?

An interesting infographic about the PBL process by EduNut

What is PBL for me?

As Marisa Badini said PBL is ”a continuous challenge” for me either. I believe that PBL is giving pupils the floor to develop hands on activities while helping them to increase their academic achievement, to apply and keep using the information, to build important skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration. Very often I guide my pupils to search and find things applying inquiry approach in teaching in order to stimulate them. Embedding eTwinning projects to my daily teaching I found another stimulus way to integrate PBL to the strict curriculum and pupils look like enjoying it while learning through collaboration and communication with classmates from abroad. I believe that An Mayer’s chart is something that every teacher should study and keep in mind while planning how to teach different school subjects.
I just wonder: could we go over the strict curriculum and do not worry about the time we dedicate while working on PBL?

1.2 Why use PBL?

My contribution to the dotstorm

Why you think PBL is not used more widely in our education systems?

Teachers are afraid to get rid of the traditional teaching methods which give them the secure and confidence that they are doing the right thing offering knowledge to students and become “likeable” to parents who want high grades and success for their kids

What is stopping us from achieving what is outlined in the video?

Lack of teachers training and the strict curriculum forces teachers to avoid practices which are mentioned in the video. Teachers have a specific material each school year to teach in a given period and when they implement a project to the curriculum, they do it in a traditional way, being afraid of losing time and teaching in an environment which is not “under control”

What are the biggest challenges we as educators face and who is stopping us from adopting the PBL approach in our classrooms?

Involving pupils in a PBL we encourage their Critical thinking, communication and collaboration while at the same time we cultivate their social and cross-cultural skills through information, media and ICT literacy. Only by implementing a PBL into our teaching strategies we will persuade pupils, parents and other “traditional” teachers that in this way we give the floor to productivity and accountability, leadership and responsibility into our classroom.

1.3 P2P - Reflections on our current teaching practice

When I first started to work with projects some years ago I couldn’t imagine the hidden paths that would open to me and my students. Studying now the chart created by Amy Meyer I could recognize some of the tips of the PBL while developing projects and of course a lot of others in the traditional project. I certainly faced a lot of times the problem that students don’t remember what they learned the day before when I try to teach for example geomorphological data in Greece. And this works neither for pupils who very easily getting bored nor for me. The same thing happens while teaching various other topics such as science or history or even language and maths. Thanks to eTwinning, I changed a lot the way that I teach. Apart from made me carrying about my professional development, the fact that my pupils have the chance to collaborate using ICT with pupils from abroad while at the same time cultivate their social and cross-cultural skills brought a regeneration air into the classroom. When I try to implement some of the PBL approaches mentioned in the video in the curriculum, I keep in mind to encourage pupils’ creativity and innovation through critical thinking and collaboration. Although I have to face a noisy classroom working in teams to carry out a project for example about energy, I encourage them to make choices that determine the outcome and path of the research. Of course this is not something that could happen every day or in every subject, because the problem with the curriculum stands. I have to teach specific material in a given time. But it is worth to try to teach primary school subjects such as science or history for example with PBL.

1.4 Components of Good PBL

Five keys to Rigorous Project Based learning

  • Real-World Connection
  • Core to Learning
  • Structured Collaboration
  • Student Driven
  • Multifaceted Assesment

Reflections on the Components of Good PBL

I could say that the 5th key, multifaceted assessment, is the most challenging. Students are used to be evaluated with tests in specific material and parents are used to the fact that the higher marks are the key for their children’s success. Even we, as teachers, are used to evaluate with tests. Apart from this, our educational system, with notebooks full of exercises to be filled, is an obstacle that we have to pass over in order to implement PBL.

1.5 The Driving Question

The driven question:

  • Should be Open-ended
  • Should engage and inspire students by creating curiosity
  • Should be aligned to the learning goals

How can we write effective Driving questions?

A guideline from jetspot.com

Another usefull link that guides to "Crafting questions that Drive Projects"

and a Driving Question Tubric 2.0

My non-Googleable question: How did Daidalus and Icarus managed to fly? took 11 votes!!

1.6 P2P - Your PBL Design: Formulating your driving question

The driving question: Can you explain why energy has too many different faces? Students’ age-range: 11-12 age/ 6th grade

Subjects: interdisciplinary approach through science, language, maths, geography, ICT, art and theater

Learning goals: Students to be able to:

• Interpret the changes and the work going on around them using the concepts of storage and energy transport, conversion, scattering and preservation

• Linking physical phenomena of heat, light, electricity and engineering in the concept of energy conversion and forms

• Indicate that people take from food the energy that is necessary for the human body functioning and its activities

2. Developing effective collaboration for PBL

I choose this photo to contribute to the common padlet, because I would like to share my feelings when I've seen so many little hands working together to create the mascot of an eTwinning project. If this is not collaboration, then what else it could be?

2.1 Twitter Chat: 13th June, 18:30h
Discussion Topic: How do you implement PBL in the classroom?

2.2 What is effective collaboration?

  • A key goal of PBL is not the project but rather the process of building the project
  • One of the key things students should be learning as part of this process is effective collaboration

The nature of collaboration happening in my classroom

Are your students required to work in pairs or groups most lessons?  

Well, it depends on the circumstances and the unit of the lesson we examine. Sometimes they work in pairs giving each other feedback and they bring to others the product that they created. They sometimes choose to work on a common google drive to make a presentation, or discuss in a small group an issue. But there also a lot of times while they do their work alone, create something and send it to me for a feedback.

Do your students have shared responsibility for tasks?

Students have shared responsibility when they work in pairs or groups to develop a common product, design, or response. Shared responsibility is more than simply helping each other: students must collectively own the work and be mutually responsible for its outcome. For example they created a common video advertisement in which two of them were the actresses and the third one was the camera woman and the editor of the video. They presented it to the whole classroom.

Do your students have to make substantive decisions when working together (decisions that will impact the result of their joint work)?

Some groups seems to be able enough to make substantive decisions together when they must resolve important issues that will guide their work together. However, this daoes not work with all groups who need more guidance and support.

Is the students' work interdependent of each other (in other words can they only succeed together)?

Contributing to a common goal guides certainly to a success. Each student put his/her own brick to the common wall acoording to the personal abilities.

2.3 Effective Collaboration for PBL inside the Classroom

"Collaboration does not just happen, it needs to be learned".

Here are some useful tips to help scaffold the collaboration process for the students in the context of PBL.

Structuring collaboration for student success

The teacher should:

  • Teach the kids how best to work together
  • Offer tools to help kids manage time and tasks
  • Use tabletop directions to keep kids focused
  • Faciliate learning by moving among groups

5 Strategies for Fostering a Collaborative Culture in a PBL Classroom

Build confidence and agency by engaging in collaborative group work across all content areas

Ideas for activities to develop effective collaboration

I usually choose to play games either into the class or outdoor. When we are into the class, especially at the beginning of the new school year, we form a circle and then throwing a small ball to keep random in a student, a carousel dating begins. We continue the game, writing in a sheet which contains the alphabet, one verb or adjective for each letter and describing our personalities. We put all these sheets in a box and then each student pick up in random one of them and announce to all of us. We continue the games by writing in a colorful paper, in a palm shape, one hobby for each finger of the palm. In the center of the palm we place one photo. Finally we form our class’s collaborative tree.

2.4 Finding collaboration partners outside the classroom

-Organizing projects together with another class.  But how?

"eTwinning network is an online network of more than 400,000 teachers in Europe and beyond, designed so that every teacher can easily find project partners and organize joint projects."

At the core of eTwinning's pedagogy stands the PBL approach which through an etwinning project can benefit our students' learning.

-Involving people from the community to students work. Why?

Getting professionals from the "real-world" to come and work with the students creates an entirely new meaning for their work.

Involving the Community

I teach in an Experimental Primary school which is connected to the Local University and more specific to the Department of Pedagogical Studies which trains students to be teachers. A lot of them every semester come into my classroom to practice either watching me teaching or teach themselves. All the teachers of the school collaborate with the professors from the university. Apart from this the school has a Supervisory Scientific Council that consists of a professor from the university, an education consultant, the head-teacher and two other teachers from the stuff. This Supervisory Scientific Council approves any innovation or gives support to our teaching strategies. As far as concerning the development of national or eTwinning projects, I often involve parents or other organizations, such as the Municipality, environment organizations, or others (depending on the topic) who stand besides us and help us when we “knock their door”. I believe that connecting the pupils with professional from the “real –world” makes them more responsible. They behave like adults who ask for a respect to their work.

2.5 Collaboration Tools

I use with my pupils padlet, answergarden, google drive with shareable presentations, docs or sheets and many others mentioned in the course's padlet. As far as concerning the eTwinning projects, which we develop with partner schools, we try to use a lot of collaborative tools in order to produce a common work. Twinspace gives us also the opportunity to collaborate there using forums and live events.

2.6 P2P - Building your PBL Learning Design

Dear, diary.... I have to say that as the course is going on I'm introduced to new things, new tools new interesting and fresh ideas. Could I be capable enough to build an effective Learning Design which will help me to implement PBL?

Arjana suggested a tool, the Objective Builder, which helps to build our goals. Taking into account the suggestions made by peer reviewers in Module 1 and with the help of this tool, I refreshed my goals and started building the first TLA from the bottom to the top.

...and the first TLA of my Learning Design about Energy is in the following link.

3. Developing student-driven activities for PBL

"Getting students' to develop grit and resilience to stay with a problem or project even though they have failed previously is one the most difficult parts of PBL"

It was a lot of years ago....When finishing lyceum I failed in my attempt to study English language at the University. Instead of this I became a teacher. But English language as well as other foreign langauges were always in my mind, because i strongly believe that studying another langauge, except from our native one, makes people more openminded...Since then, my dream to get involved with this topic keeps going on... I never stopped studying, practising and trying! My lately attempt? Turkish language...

Resilience- staying with problems

A simple guide to teach resilience

3.1 Scaffolding for Student Ownership and Independence

"We cannot simply give students independence and hope they wil just take charge of the process."

"Students' ownership over the process needs to develop as part of PBL"

"Concrete tips on how to scaffold for a student-driven environment in PBL"

  • Give students voice and choice in the process
  • Let the students seek answers independently
  • Make time for reflection and revision
  • Have students track their own progress

3.3 An Entrepreneurial Mindset

For students: to take ownership of the PBL process and move their own and their peer's learning forward, they need to have an entrepreneurial mindset

How can we cultivate Entrepreneurial mindset?

  • Be initiative and action oriented
  • Be creative and innovative
  • Be courageous
  • Work hard and embrace lifelong learning
  • Don’t mind failure
  • Be self-confident and independent
  • Have a strong sense of commitment and passion
  • Keep a positive attitude

In the video below the moderator Kornélia Lohyňová is giving a clear overview of what such mindset entails and how it links to PBL

She highlights also usefull resources

Many different kinds of a plastic bottle: candlestick, flower pot, vase

3.4 Webinar 22nd June, 18:30h: Developing Entrepreneurial Skills

"Design Thinking?... What is that?"

"Although Design is most often used to describe an object or end result, Design in its most effective form is a process, an action, a verb not a noun. A protocol for solving problems and discovering new opportunities. Techniques and tools differ and their effectiveness are arguable but the core of the process stays the same."

Design Thinking concists of four elements:

  • Define the problem
  • Create and concider many options
  • Refine selected directions
  • Repeat (optional)
  • Pick the winner, execute

What Does ‘Design Thinking’ Look Like in School?

3.5 P2P - Building your PBL Learning Design

...and now, my dear Diary, I have to open again my Learning Design and continue adding TLAs. I must focus on scaffolding for student independence and ownership, building resilience and an entrepreneurial mindset in general. My Design should provide opportunity for students

  • to identify the questions they would like to pursue
  • to make choices on all key project-related aspects such as resources used, products created, use of time, etc.
  • to take significant responsibility and work independently from the teacher, but with guidance if necessary
  • to reflect during the project about their own work and learning

Will I be able to do it having always my students in mind?

Well, maybe the answer is in here, in the next TLAs that I added to my Learning Design

4. Assessing PBL

Assessment should be about:

  • "sitting beside someone"
  • providing feedback
  • helping them to improve

"Assessment should not only be about giving a grade at the end but it should be an on-going process, where teachers and students alike assess their learning as they work on the projects"

My assessment context

I teach in an Experimental Primary school and I have to say that I feel free to apply the kind of assessment that I want. Sometimes I use an open question, some others a test at the end of a unit which includes closed and opened questions and a multiple choice questionnaire. Very often, when they present their work, students are being assessed by their peers or by the whole class. When we develop some kind of a project, the assessment is done either by students and me. I also call them to express their opinion about the project either in written way or during an interview.

4.1 Teachmeet - Mon 27th June 18:30h

A TeachMeet is an informal way of sharing ideas amongst teachers. It's similar to a webinar except that the participants are the speakers.

4.2 Embedding Assessment into PBL

"Assessment as part of PBL should not only come at the end but should be seen as a learning activity that is embedded throughout the PBL process. It should become a standard feature of any scaffolding activities you might plan for your PBL implementation. Such type of assessment is known as formative assessment."

Watch in the video "how the engagement of an outside audience was used as part of the assessment process"

Embedding assessment throughout the project

  • Build assessment into the project flow
  • Build in chances for self and group assessment
  • End project with a product and performance
  • Present work to an audience beyond the class

Formative assessment techniques

I call my students to set their personal goals at the beginning of the new school year and from time to time to return there and reflect on them. In indoor activities I often use open-ended questions, journal reflections or think-pair-share assessments. In outdoor activities students assess using colorful nature elements or drawings

4.3 Peer Assessment for PBL

"The process of peer assessment or peer review can be a powerful learning activity for the reviewer and the reviewee."

Self and peer assessment

The Laded of feedback: Kind, thoughtfull and effective feedback

Student-centered assessment: Peer assessment

Peer assessment: reflections from students and teachers

As for me....my Dear diary,

I have paricipated several times in MOOCs or seminars where I had to use peer assessment. I have to admit that the positive comments and the feedback I received helped me improve my work. Certainly it was a useful experience which I sometimes apply in my classroom without using grades or something official. This course is a challenge for me to start using a peer assessment with my pupils using much more rubrics.

4.4 Creating & Using Rubrics for PBL Assessment

Tips about rubrics according to the MOOC:

  • Rubrics are grading tools that can be used for summative as well as formative assessment
  • Rubrics are a very useful tool to help students with self- and peer assessment.
  • They should in fact be seen as a learning resource that is used by students throughout their work.
  • Rubrics lend themselves especially well for PBL because they can capture a complex range of criteria in an organized and clear way.

More about rubrics in the video:

Analytic rubrics consists of:

  • Part 1: Description of assignment
  • Part 2: Performance criteria
  • Part 3: The range scale (3 levels)
  • Part 4: The individual description

Before we begin create a rubric, we should:

  • Concider the course level objectives that our assignment addresses
  • Provide relevance of our assignment

How to build a rubric?


  1. We have a title
  2. We describe the assignment or task


Performance criteria: devide the assignments into chalks. (We can include percentages to each component)


The range scale: label which determine the label (ex. exceptional quality, average quality, poor quality)


Individual descriptions within the grid which describe what must be accoblished according to the level

Why would we create a rubric?


  • Convey timely feedback (we could save hours of grading)
  • Make evaluation more objective
  • Bring structure to the grading
  • Help us determine exactly what we have to measure and the values should be assigned
  • Provide transparency to the students (they appreciate it)
  • Show to students what exactly is being assessed
  • Encourage students' self evaluation (students can check their progress and each others' work)
  • Help students improve their grade
  • Lessen grade frastrations

Rubistar is a useful tool which can help us create a rubric for PBL activities

Here is my rubric using Rubistar

4.5 P2P - Your PBL Learning Design

...and now, my dear Diary, time came to embed some assessment activities throughout my design about the noumerous faces of energy. There are assessments like Hand signal, Think-pair-share, rubrics.... Here is my updated Learning Design.

Let's wait and see the peer review....Did I manage to apply PBL?

Dear Diary, I'm very happy to receive the peer review from Ναταλία Δρακωνάκη:

"Dear Angeliki,
I really loved your very detailed learning design and I think your pupils will enjoy it. It is full of interesting and motivating activities, a lot of opportunities for collaborative work and a variety of both formative and summative assessment. I used the Buck Institute Project Design Rubric as suggested in our assignment and your score is excellent, that is why I am not attaching it.

Overall congratulations on a really promising learning design and a very interesting learning diary. The driving question is very motivating and based in real life issues spreading in various topics, and the learning design is very well and logically organized. Perhaps it would be useful if you added some resources.

I am really hoping you will be able to implement your project, I am certain it will be very rewarding.

Best wishes,


and Catello de Sinno:

"Comparing your Learning Design to the Buck Institute Project Design Rubric shows me that your design mostly includes features of effective PBL. Your driving question, activities and assessment are all very rigorous and display the key strengths identified in the rubric."

4.6 Extra Webinar 5th July - Flip Your Students' Role in PBL

Dear Course Gurdian Angels, both moderators, peer reviewers, well known and unknown friends: This summer adventure was amazing!! Even though PBL's sea was waiving for us these weeks, we managed to reach to a safe harbour carrying in our luggages lot or precious knowledge!! Thank you!!

Comment Stream

a year ago

Great Tackk. Do you use theatre/drama in class or it is like an extra curricular activity? Best of luck with the course. Hope to stay connected and collaborate.

a year ago

Thank you!! To tell you the truth I developed two years ago a project and the title was: When nature is in danger...using theatre to solve environmental issues

a year ago


a year ago

You're right: integrating PBL in the curriculum we have to reconsider time and space, as well!

a year ago

Theatre is a great mean for communication and expression!

a year ago

Congratulations Angeliki!

a year ago

@kloovged Thank you!! Nejat, is that you? Happy to see you here too!!

a year ago

Thank you Angeliki! I am so glad to see you, too.