Chiara Ferronato's Learning Diary



I hold a degree in Foreign Languages and Education from Padua University. I have been working as a teacher of English in the Primary School since 1983 and I have been training teachers since 1996. I'm a member of Lend and Lend National representative and responsible for the Primary School. I'm author, moderator and tutor for the national e-learning platform for training teachers.

I’m involved in several projects dealing with the pedagogical use of ICT in education and in virtual professional teaching. I’m also engaged in different activities on Early English Learning. I have taken part in European projects and students exchanges with schools from all over Europe.

My pupils during a tour in Bologna.

In this wiki you can see what my children do at school

Torre School Wiki

These two videos are very useful to understand what PBL is.

And my brain is starting working...

Very interesting videos.
My first impression is to perceive the difference between the "Dessert" and the "Main Course" but I need to study more.
What I now think is about TBL - Task based learning and Problem solving. Are they parts of this way of learning?

PBL Elements

1.3 -What is PBL and why use it

I’ve been teaching in the Primary School fro 32 years and I’ve always tried to improve my methodology and found new strategies to motivate my children.

I strongly believe in constructivism

…Constructivism is basically a theory -- based on observation and scientific study -- about how people learn. It says that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. When we encounter something new, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experience, maybe changing what we believe, or maybe discarding the new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active creators of our own knowledge. To do this, we must ask questions, explore, and assess what we know.

In the classroom, the constructivist view of learning can point towards a number of different teaching practices. In the most general sense, it usually means encouraging students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world problem solving) to create more knowledge and then to reflect on and talk about what they are doing and how their understanding is changing. The teacher makes sure to understand the students' preexisting conceptions, and guides the activity to address them and then build on them.

Constructivist teachers encourage students to constantly assess how the activity is helping them gain understanding. By questioning themselves and their strategies, students in the constructivist classroom ideally become "expert learners." This gives them ever-broadening tools to keep learning. With a well-planned classroom environment, the students learn HOW TO LEARN.

That’s why most of my school time is dedicated to propose various activities in order to stimulate my children’s minds and to satisfy their multiple intelligences.

I always pose questions and problems, then guide my students to help them find their own answers. I try to use many techniques in my teaching process. For example,

I prompt my pupils to formulate their own questions (inquiry)

or I allow multiple interpretations and expressions of learning (multiple intelligences) and I encourage group work and the use of peers as resources (collaborative learning).

Could this be easily complemented with a PBL approach? I think YES!

In a constructivist classroom, learning is . . . constructed!

I think my pupils aren’t blank slates upon which knowledge is etched. They come to learning situations with already formulated knowledge, ideas, and understandings. This previous knowledge is the raw material for the new knowledge they will create.

My pupil is the person who creates new understanding for him/herself. I can coach, moderate, suggest, but allow them room to experiment, ask questions, try things that don't work. Learning activities require the students' full participation (like hands-on experiments). An important part of the learning process is that students reflect on, and talk about, their activities. Students also help set their own goals and means of assessment.

Students control their own learning process, and they lead the way by reflecting on their experiences. This process makes them experts of their own learning. The teacher helps create situations where the students feel safe questioning and reflecting on their own processes, either privately or in group discussions. The teacher should also create activities that lead the student to reflect on his or her prior knowledge and experiences. Talking about what was learned and how it was learned is really important.

So, I think learning should be collaborative, inquiry-based, evolving.

Any Problems? Of course, yes! The lack of time, our small classroom, some colleagues of mine who don’t want noise around during their lessons ( and my children are happily noisy ), our school wi-fi that sometimes doesn’t work!

To experiment with PBL I’ll choose my Year 4 class ( 9 years of age) and my favorite subject: English!

1.4 -Components of good PBL

Five key components we need to get right in order to make PBL a success. These are very challenging!

Collaboration, student-drive, and assessment...

From the classroom to the real world!


  • Real world connection: having an authentic problem; having an audience
  • Core to learning: academic rigor
  • Structured collaboration: allowing students to work together but giving them a structure within which to work. It's very carefully scaffolded
  • Student driven: teacher as a facilitator. Hints, not answers!Good questions!
  • Multifaceted assessment: during the entire PBL unit. Students are part of the assessment process.

The key I'm worried about is assessment. I'm not still used to assess without tests and so on.
I know I need to improve this!
Sometimes I try to change the way to test my children.
Recently I've discovered Kahoot
just to introduce a different and more exciting way to check my pupils' goals.

Anyway I'm thinking about the Multifaceted to have my pupils as part of the PBL in progress!!!

1.5 The Driving Question

Let's have a BID IDEA!!

1.5: the question should be open-ended, engage and inspire students by creating curiosity, be aligned to your learning goals, and at the same time be non-Googleable.

This is a very useful site where to find everything about PBL: BIE

John Mergendoller, the Executive Director of the Buck Institute of Education, also highlightsthe importance of the driving question to trigger critical thinking in students. He identifies a useful criterium to evaluate if your driving question in fact does this: How straight-forward is it to answer the question by asking Google? Good driving questions according to Mergendoller are non-Googleable questions.

Let's have a BID IDEA!!

I like the idea to combine CLIL & PBL!

My Driving Question

In these days in Ravenna, where I live and teach, you can see this poster around the town as publicity of an extraordinary and interesting event called "Ravenna Festival"

As you can see, it's composed by fifteen famous people who have contributed to change the world and to " walk on the long road to freedom"

Since 1990 Ravenna Festival has been characterized by an extremely varied artistic programme including all types of performing arts: symphonic and chamber music, opera, drama, dance, ballet, musical theatre, jazz, and ethnic music. Every year from May to July, the entire city becomes a stage for two months.

This year in 2016 the festival's fil rouge leads to the defence of civil rights, giving voice to the passions and the innovative drive of the large popular movements that helped change the world.

My Bid Idea is to involve my children aged 10, to think and prepare their own Ravenna festival, choosing arts and characters to put on their poster and to convince other children from all over the world to come and visit them during the event.

So the question could be:

You have to prepare and promote "Ravenna Children Festival",

Who do you put on the poster? Which sentence will you choose? Which places in Ravenna will you choose as performing places? Why?

Each group will choose the way to promote the event and the final product.

I'll use a CLIL approach and ask them to communicate in English.

Most of the subjects will be involved such as Italian, English, History, Social Studies, Geography, Religion, Maths, Music, Art...

Teaching Critical Thinking

2. Developing effective collaboration for PBL


Henry Ford

I simply love this picture because in my opinion "collaboration" means to go beyond all the differences and find a common language to talk and share in order to build a "world" together.

My Learning Designer

2.2 What is effective collaboration?

A key goal of PBL is not the project but rather the process of building the project.

And one of the key things students should be learning as part of this process is effective collaboration.

Students work together when the activity requires them to work in pairs or groups to:  discuss an issue  solve a problem  create a product

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.

Students make substantive decisions together when they must resolve important issues that will guide their work together. Substantive decisions are decisions that shape the content, process, OR product of students’ work.

Students’ work is interdependent when all students must participate in order for the team to succeed.

To meet this criterion, students must be required to produce an interdependent product (such as a presentation that they each must share in developing and presenting) or other interdependent outcome (such as a decision that requires information that is distributed across students).

If you answer yes to each of the questions your activities are truly collaborative according to the rubric.

Use your answers to the questionnaire to draft a Learning Diary entry reflecting about the nature of collaboration happening in your classroom.

2.3 Effective Collaboration for PBL inside the Classroom

Collaboration does not just happen, it needs to be learned and we can provide our students with the environment and the scaffolding to help them become effective collaborators.

Share some great activities that you can do with students to develop collaborative skills amongst them, share in your own ideas and activities that you use to build team spirit, better communication amongst groups:

as group work is something the children have to learn, I teach them how to politely disagree.

Usually I split the class in groups in many ways. Maybe the most popular is, as in the video, to have the children line up according to their birthday, height, hair, colour of eyes, preferences...

Involving audiences or partners from outside of the classroom or even better outside of the school.

Facilitating Collaborative Learning!

2.4 Finding collaboration partners outside the classroom

I strongly believe that involving the "real world" at school is extremely important.

For this reason I've  chosen a wiki where to post all my children's work and where I share many activities with them and with everyone is willing to follow us.

This year an important local company gave us 7 iPads!

2.5 Collaboration Tools

Padlet is an online virtual “bulletin” board, where students and teachers can collaborate

EDpuzzle is a site that allows users to select a video and customize it by editing, cropping, recording audio, and adding questions

Popplet for School. In the classroom and at home, students use Popplet for learning. Used as a mind-map, Popplet helps students think and learn visually.

ThingLink is a tool for creating interactive images and videos for web, social, advertising, and educational channels.

Be creative! Make your images come alive with video, text, images, shops, music and more!

PicCollage: Playing with your pictures!

Flipagram: bring Moments to Life! Create short photo video stories with your photos, videos clips, and favorite music.

Magisto: video editor and movie maker

VoiceThread: Transforming media into collaborative spaces with video, voice, and text commenting.

Blendspace is the easiest way to blend your classroom with digital content. Create lessons in 5 minutes!

Adobe Spark: Record your voice, add photos or icons, select from professional-quality soundtracks and cinematic motion - and voila!

QR generator

QR Reader - app for Apple

Build a Rubric to assess

2.6 P2P - Building my PBL Learning Design

Here is the link of my Learning Design.

Work in progress!

3. Developing student-driven activities for PBL



Albert Einstein

The key essences of this module: 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 and at the core of developing a student-driven environment.

The learning objectives for this module are:

  1. Understanding the importance of scaffolding the PBL process so that students increasingly develop independence and ownership over the tasks
  2. Understanding the importance of a positive environment and mindset for building student confidence and resilience
  3. Developing a range of activities, strategies and tools that facilitate an entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurial skills

Describe a situation in your professional or personal life where you were first unsuccessful but because you stuck with it you succeeded in the end. Finish by identifying why you stuck with the problem/task and did not give up...

Thinking about my school life, I have clear memories of my total failure in Maths and particularly with the multiple tables. I was a real disaster and any time my teacher asked me to tell them by heart, I couldn't and I cried.
One day, I was seven years old, a substitute teacher came at school because my teacher was ill. She was nice and kind, with a bright smiling face. She started asking us to play with multiple tables and she noticed I wasn't ready to answer so she started to explain how it worked a miracle I saw the LIGHT!! From that moment on the multiple table became a game also for me!

The conclusion of my short life tale is that resilience goes well with understanding and critical thinking. You have another try if you perceive and understand it's worthwhile!

3.1 Scaffolding for Student Ownership and Independence

Resilience...if it's worthwhile!

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.

3.5 P2P - Building your PBL Learning Design

For this module we'll continue adding TLAs to our Design, with a focus on scaffolding for student independence and ownership, building resilience and an entrepreneurial mindset in general.

After adding these TLAs our Design should ideally provide opportunity for students

  • to identify the questions they would like to pursue (within the context of your Driving Question)
  • 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

4. Assessing PBL


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.

The learning objectives for this module are:

  1. Understanding the difference between formative and summative assessment
  2. Understanding how assessment can be embedded into PBL activities
  3. Understanding what a rubric is and why it can help us assess PBL
  4. Develop a finalised and rigorous PBL implementation Learning Design

4.1 Teachmeet - Mon 27th June 18:30h

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.

- Build assessment into the project flow (Fist five, Quick check, Thumb up/down...)

- Build in chances for self and group assessment

- End project with a product or performance

- Present work to an audience beyond the class

In the video below, one of the teachers mentions the "quick-check" technique which simply uses a thumbs up approach to assess if students are progressing.

4.3 Peer Assessment for PBL

How to do peer assessment:

-The Ladder of feedback: kind, thoughtful, effective feedback

Am I reading this correctly?

What I think works really well is...

What I worry about is...

Maybe this part would work better if you...

4.4 Creating & Using Rubrics for PBL Assessment

Rubrics are grading tools that can be used for summative as well as formative assessment and they are also a very useful tool to help students with self- and peer assessment.

While they can be used for grading, 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.

4.5 P2P - Your PBL Learning Design

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a year ago

hi! Chiara

a year ago

Hi! Yes!! I'm a lucky and happy teacher! I love my job! Next September I'll have two mobile labs with more iPads and notebooks. A great support for my PBL activities!😃

a year ago

Ciao Chiara! Anche io mi sono laureata a Padova. Davvero un bel lavoro il wiki!

a year ago

Ciao! Grazie. Veneta anche tu?

a year ago

Si, vivo e lavoro in prov di Padova :) felice di averti incontrata qui!

a year ago


a year ago

Thank you!

a year ago

Great job and I like your wiki.

8 months ago

Hello,great job!

8 months ago

Thanks a lot Chiara, very helpful!