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PBL Essential Elements Checklist

Dunn, F.M. (2013, March 22). The 8 Elements Project-Based Learning Must Have [blog post]. Retrieved March 25,
2013 from http://www.edudemic.com/elements-project-based/


PROJECT TITLE: Explorers Learning Garden

PROJECT SOURCE: (site name + URL)

High Tech High:

GRADE LEVEL: (note here if grade level

will be modified from original source)

Does the project?


At its core, the project is focused on teaching students
important knowledge and skills, derived from standards and key
concepts at the heart of academic subjects.


Students build skills valuable for todays world, such as
creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration,
and communication, which are taught/practiced and assessed.


Students are engaged in rigorous, extended process of asking
questions, using resources, and developing answers.

The project was actually focused on all the

different elementary school grades (K-5) with
each grade having a different variation of the
project. But, we will be focusing on Grade 5.
Explain Reasoning and
Offer Possible
The project focuses on various
different subjects and state standards.
They learn a combination of colonial
history with the different
combinations of plants colonists were
able to grow. They utilize math skills
by measuring the square-foot of the
Students develop skills of
collaborating with others as they
develop their own gardens. Classes
sometimes work with buddy classes
in which they may help a younger
class in how to construct a garden.
They learn leadership skills while
learning to cooperate with other
individuals with different skills. They
learn about the environment and the
necessary ecological aspects to grow
vegetation around the world.
X Although the project focuses on
students learning about different
aspects of colonial history, it does not
opportunities to ask questions to
challenge them into researching more
into what else the colonists had to live
through. A modification to this may
be to have different students plant and
present different plants that the
colonists used and to research and
write why certain vegetation was vital

for the colonists survival.



Project work is focused by an open-ended question that

students explore or that capture the task they are completing.


Students see the need to gain knowledge, understand

concepts, and apply skills in order to answer the Driving
Question and create project products, beginning with an ENTRY
EVENT that generates interest and curiosity.


Students are allowed to make some choices about the products

to be created, how they work, and how they use their time,
guided by the teacher and depending on age level and PBL


The project includes processes for students to use feedback to
consider additions and changes that lead to high-quality
projects, and think about what and how they are learning.

Although the community garden

helps to build different skills as they
cooperate and grow their own plants
there does not seem to be a driving
essential question that is the center
focus of the project. An essential
question that could have been great
for the project would be, How has
colonial culture influenced
maintained agricultural system and
No direct entry event was presented
to the students as they prepared for
their learning students gardens. The
project does a great job of having
students find the necessary
information for the project through
independent research and group
information sharing. The project also
does a great job in helping students
understand that there is a
consequence for their actions,
especially from an environmental
point-of-view. A modification to the
project may be by having students
walk outside in the playground and
witness the environment and start a
class discussion over which of these
items would be found back in
colonial times.
The project did not allow for explicit
student choice. Therefore, a
modification could be to allow
students to be able to choose their
own plants to grow. Also, the students
could make their own choices
regarding caring for the plant under
the teachers guidance.
Although the project requires time for
the plant to grow, it is difficult to add
other learning additions to the project.
Therefore, an additional modification
would be to allow students share
observations about the different


Students present their work to other people, beyond their

classmates and teacher.

aspects of gardening, ecosystems, and

stages of plant growth. Such
discussion would help students to
collaborate and share individually
learned and gathered information.
Students in K-2 are given the
opportunity to work with the local
school caterer who can potentially use
the different greens that students have
grown to add onto the meals for the
class. This will help the students see
the connection between what they can
potentially for in their garden and
what they eat every day for lunch.
However, 5th grade does not have an
opportunity to showcase and apply
what they learned beyond the
classroom. So, since the project
requires 5th grade to make sachets
using lavender and mint, they can
showcase their products and explain
the historical context of colonial
America in a school night showcase.

Global Mini-Project Project Overview

Names of group members: Johnny Macario and Do Hee Lee
Project title: Explorers Learning Garden: Chinampas
Grade level: 5th
Project length: 5 days a week, 45 minutes per day; for a period of one month (to monitor growth of the plant)



Projects Essential Driving Question

How can we use the influences of past cultures to inspire todays gardening and to improve personal health?

Project Overview
This project allows students to learn the process and stages of plant growth, while infusing an element of cultural
sensitivity. This project-based learning experience will be divided into two sections: (1) Aztec Agriculture (2)
Plant Growth. Students will be responsible for conducting background research on Key features of the Aztec
culture, especially in terms of the Aztec agricultural system: Chinampas. After researching, the purpose and
structure of Chinampas, the teacher will lead a review of Chinampas by holding a class discussion. During the
class discussion, the class will draft the basic design of a chinampa. Then, the teacher will lead the students into
the garden, where they can actually get the hands on experience of planting and nurturing plants. Every two
students will be responsible for nurturing a mini-chinampa, which will be pre-made by the teacher. During the
nurturing process, students will be required to plant the seeds and care for the seeds until it grows into a plant. As
the plant is planted and begins to grow, the teacher and the class will have a discussion on the growing process
and stages of a plant. Also, students will be responsible for measuring the growth of the chia seeds in relation to
time, which allows them to organize, represent, and interpret their own data of chia plant growth (Math). For the
purpose catering to limited time, chia seeds (which take around 2 to 3 weeks to grow into a fully developed plant,
ready for harvest). At the conclusion of the learning process, students will be required to create a poster
presentation and research report about Aztec gardening influences, the growing phases of chia seeds, benefits of
gardening to our environment, and integration of chia seeds into out diet (ELA).

Project Products
1. Chinampa Design: A picture design with a description of a chinampa and how it works.
2. Science Log: A daily journal that students record their observations of the growing plant (height, color,
new formations of the plant and amount of water and sun exposure the plant received)
3. Data Charts for Plant Growth: Collection of the height of the plant over time presented in line graphs
(data taken from the science log).
4. Poster: Presented in a tri-fold poster. Information about Aztec gardening influences, the growing phases
of chia seeds, benefits of gardening to our environment, and integration of chia seeds into out diet.
(Students can incorporate their chinampa design, parts of their science log, and data charts into their
5. Research Report: A reflection of the poster, but summarized in a written report. The written report will
give students an opportunity to reflect on their learning experience and draw conclusions and
improvements for successes and failures.

Global Awareness
During the Aztec Agriculture research portion of the project, students will be exposed to the culture of ancient
Central American times. Exposure to ancient cultures develops a sense of cultural historical awareness, which will
allow students to approach other cultures that they may learn about with a more open mind (Investigating the
World and Recognizing Perspectives). During the plant growing part of the project-based learning, students are
required to share their observations and predictions of plant growth with other students (Communicating Ideas).
Then, in the last stage of the project, students are required to present their poster and research report in a
showcase to parents, teachers, and dieticians (Communicating Ideas). As the students are presenting their work
and reporting their ideas on how to incorporate alternative gardening techniques (like the Aztec gardens) and
incorporating chia seeds into a healthier diet, they are going above and beyond the classroom to inform their
community (Taking Action).

Curriculum Alignment Matrix

Considering your selected grade level, determine the most noteworthy ways in which this project helps
students gain and/or apply knowledge and skills from across multiple content areas. Determine
standards for each core subject area (ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies) that align with your
project. Select one or more other subject areas (Health, P.E., Tech, Fine Arts, or World Languages etc.)
that also connect with your project.
For each content area include:
1) A list of corresponding standards from http://www.mdk12.org/instruction/curriculum/index.html. Your
matrix must clearly identify the subject area, grade level, standard, topic, and indicator. In many cases
you should also be able to identify the specific objective, but this is not required. See the following as an
Science Grade 1
Standard 2.0 Earth/Space Science Grade
Topic E - Interactions of Hydrosphere and Atmosphere
Indicator 1 - Recognize and describe that the surface of Earth is more than half covered with water.
Objective a - Identify the many locations where water is found.
2) An overview of the learning experiences and activities that connect the selected standards to the
further investigation of the projects essential question.

Projects Essential Driving Question

How can we use the influences of past cultures to inspire todays gardening and to improve personal health?

English Language Arts Standards Alignment

Writing (W- 5th Grade)
Cluster: Text Types and Purposes
W2 CCR Anchor Standard: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and
information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
W2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
Essential Skills and Knowledge:
Prepare the final product for presentation and/or publication, including
using word processing technology
applying cursive handwriting skills neatly and legibly when handwriting is preferable or technology is
delivering oral presentations



Research Report

Mathematics Standards Alignment

Doman: Measurement and Data
Cluster: Represent and Interpret Data
5.MD.2 Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1 2 , 1 4 , 1 8 ). Use
operations on fractions for this grade to solve problems involving information presented in line plots. For
example, given different measurements of liquid in identical beakers, find the amount of liquid each beaker would
contain if the total amount in all the beakers were redistributed equally.

Essential Skills and Knowledge

Knowledge of whole numbers on a line plot to represent and interpret fractional data on a line plot



Science Log
Data Charts for Plant Growth

Science Standards Alignment

Science Grade 5
Standard 1.0 Skills and Processes
Topic A- Constructing Knowledge
Indicator 1- Gather and question data from many different forms of scientific investigations which include
reviewing appropriate print resources, observing what things are like or what is happening somewhere, collecting
specimens for analysis, and doing experiences.
e. Follow direction carefully and keep accurate records of ones work in order to compare data gathered.
f. Identify possible reasons for differences in results from investigations including unexpected differences in the
methods used or in the circumstance in which the investigation is carried out, and sometimes just because of
uncertainties on observations.



Science Log

Social Studies Standards Alignment

Social Studies Grade 5
Standard 6.0 Social Studies Skills and Processes
Topic D- Acquire social studies information
Indicator 1- Identify primary and secondary sources of information that relate to the topics/situation/problem
being studied
a. Gather and read appropriate print sources, such as textbooks, government documents, timelines, trade books,
and websites
b. Read and obtain information from texts representing diversity in content, culture, authorship, and perspective



Research for Chinampa and Aztec Agriculture

Chinampa Design

Additional Standards Alignment (Health, P.E., Tech, Fine Arts, World

Languages etc.)
Health Grade 5
Standard 3.0 Personal and Consumer Health
Topic- Personal and Health Maintenance
Indicator 1- Identify and practice health-enhancing behaviors to reduce health risks for safer, healthier lives
a. demonstrate skills and strategies to improve and maintain personal health



Research Report (section about incorporating Chia seeds into diet)

Project Entry and Exit Event Plans

This blueprint is intended to help you in the design of your Global Mini-Projects entry and exit events.
For additional information on project entry events refer to http://www.edutopia.org/blog/summer-pdstarting-projects-suzie-boss and for a project exit events refer to http://www.edutopia.org/blog/summerpd-ending-projects-high-note-suzie-boss. Plan a project entry event that sparks students curiosity and
engages students with the projects essential question. Project entry events tend to be memorable,
brief, creative, and often dramatic. Design your projects exit event, or culminating event, so students
can share the product(s) or result(s) of their investigation, receive feedback, and celebrate their
learning with the larger community.

Projects Essential Driving Question:

How can we use the influences of past cultures to inspire todays gardening and to improve personal health?

Overview: Students will work together to go out into the classroom and hunt for four hidden objects. These objects
will represent items that have defined Aztec civilization (Aztec pyramid, Aztec calendar, and two different Aztec
statues). Students will be paired in four different groups, each group having to find only one specific item. After each
group has found the items, a class discussion will commence over the similar characteristics of the items ultimately
leading to where can all these different items be found.

Instructional Materials:

4 Different Scavenger Items:

o Picture of Aztec Pyramid
o Picture of Aztec Calendar
o Picture of a Chinampa
o Pictures of Different Crops
4 Notecards with Clues about the Scavenger Items
Books (about the Aztec civilization)



Time Duration: 90 minutes

Instructional Sequence:

ate time

Detailed Steps/Procedure

Set Up

5 Minutes

Form Groups

(3-6 min)

The teacher will set-up the scavenger hunt by hiding the different items
around the room. Fill the notecards with the clues to help students find the
items. Also, have books on the Aztec empire on each group of tables.
The clue in each card will be:
place of worship to Aztec Gods (also known as God Houses)
dedicated to the Gods; will usually be found in a place of worship;
also, helps with time
type agricultural system
staple foods
The teacher will allow the class to make 4 separate groups. As groups are
being made, the teacher will gather students together in each corner of the
classroom before handing them the notecard. Each group will be assigned a
designated reader that will read the notecard to the rest of the group.
Now that the groups each have a designated reader, on the count of three,
you will each flip your card and read it. Ready? 1.2...and 3!
The teacher will facilitate the scavenger hunt by walking around and helping
students decipher the clues in their notecards.

Scavenger Hunt

Class Discussion

Question (Class

(12-15 min)

(15-20 min)

After all four groups have found their designated item, the class will sit back
in their seats and they will discuss the similarities between the different
objects and where their location may be found.
With all the different items that we have collected, what similarities did we
find between all of them? What similarities does this item have with the items
that we may have in your home? Are there any differences?

(10 Minutes)

The teacher will introduce the essential driving question and then, ask the
students how they could potentially relate the scavenger items to answer the
driving question.
Teacher questions (to facilitate student discussion):
Does your family have a personal garden? Does it look like the way
the Aztecs garden?
What are some health foods you consume and where do they come
How much healthier is it to garden our own food?

Overview: In this exit event, during family night, students families will take a gallery walk around the gardens
as each student will take turns as the tour guides. As parents, teachers, and dieticians pass by the different plants that
have grown, students will present their findings of how their particular plant was fundamental in Aztec culture and
what environmental factors allowed for their chosen plant to flourish and how did that environment differ from the
environment in our school. Lastly, we will all meet at the beginning of the garden and allow parents to ask students any
questions that they may have over the plants or their choices.

Instructional Materials:

The garden that the students have created

Lamps for lighting purposes during the tour


Time Duration: 90 minutes

Instructional Sequence:

Gathering of the
teachers, and
dieticians for the


ate time

Detailed Steps/Procedure

(2-4 minutes)

A student facilitator will present the unit of Aztec culture and civilization to
the parents.

As Family night begins in the school, students and parents will gather and
meet primarily in the classroom before the walk outdoors to the students in
classroom garden.

For the last couple of weeks, the students have been learning about Aztec
civilization while researching what types of vegetation has flourished in their
environment. As students continued with their research over this vast
civilization, the class created a community garden with all the different plants
that can be found and were used in this civilization. We will take a tour
around the garden and students will each become a tour guide and give a brief
explanation over why they chose the plant, the environmental conditions that
allowed for the plant to flourish, and the use that the plants had for the
We will allow time at the end of the tour for any questions that you may have
for the students

Walk from the

classroom into
the garden

(2-3 minutes)

Now we will quickly walk out onto the garden where the students will each
begin to lead their tour

Once outside,
the showcase
will begin


Students with their partner will slowly start giving a tour of the different
plants in the garden while taking tours.
Each student will present four different points from their project:
the plant they chose and how much did it grow over time
the environmental factors that led to the growth of the plant and how
did it differ from environment found in Central American
how the chosen plant was fundamental in Aztec civilization
reflection on the overall project and experience (including comments
on challenges and improvement for the future)

Whole Group


When the showcase has been completed, the class will stand in front of the
garden, and the parents, teachers, and dieticians will have a Q&A with the