“Arts & Crafts”: Busywork or Enhanced Learning?

I had the opportunity to write for Edweek once again. This time exploring how hands-on activities can be an integral part of learning rather than “fluff.” Spoiler alert: PBL is a great way to integrate arts into your classroom with a purpose!

Arts and crafts can be a purposeful part of learning. They grant freedom of expression and offer an alternative way to demonstrate student knowledge than standardized assessments. Coloring or drawing can be filler activities with no educational value. Or they could be used as sketchnoting for visual notes or summaries of content. Students could collaboratively create concept maps demonstrating learning connections. The question for teachers to consider is how will the art or crafts be tied to learning goals?

Check out the rest at Edweek-“Arts & Crafts”: Busywork or Enhanced Learning. I also recorded a short podcast on this topic that was released earlier this year.

Pulse of PBL

Matinga and I are excited about the early feedback on our book! From the back cover:

Each chapter of The Pulse of PBL will demonstrate, competency by competency, how SEL can be naturally embedded into PBL. Specific examples, protocols, and stories from both elementary and secondary classrooms around the U.S. illustrate how PBL and SEL are a powerful combination. Transformative SEL changes the way students see themselves as learners, becoming active participants in their communities and the world! 

  • How do I leverage student social and cultural identities to develop their Self-Awareness?
  • How do I build students’ ability to Self-Manage their time, task, and teams?
  • How do I create student experiences that heighten empathy to sharpen their Social Awareness?
  • How do I strengthen students’ capacity for collaboration and communication to forge productive Relationship Skills?
  • How do I present authentic opportunities for Responsible Decision-Making in projects to affect their communities and their lives? 
  • How do I assess the SEL competencies to ensure ALL students apply their skills in meaningful learning?

Learn with me!

If you are interested in how your school can use a PBL framework to teach SEL skills. I would love to have a conversation on how I can help. I am scheduling PBL & SEL workshops for this summer right now. Check out my workshop page or drop me an email at mikejkaechele@gmail.com. I would love to chat and co-plan meaningful PD for the educators at your school.

One and done Professional Development is ineffective. Here’s a great little post about questions you should be asking before you hire a consultant. I would be glad to develop a vision with you!

Pulse of PBL Podcast

My coauthor Dr. Matinga Ragatz and I were guests on Dr. John Spencer’s podcast discussing ideas from our newly released book Pulse of PBL: Cultivating Equity Through Social Emotional Learning.

During this full length podcast, we share how we got started in PBL, mistakes we have made, and the KARE Gap Probe, a favorite protocol to help students manage their teams when they get stuck. Give it a listen and let us know what you think.

My New Book is Released to the Wild!

I wanted you all to be some of the first to know that Pulse of PBL, the book that I co-wrote with Matinga Ragatz is now available on Amazon. This book is the culmination of the many things that I have shared on my blog and newsletter over the years combined with Matinga’s expertise in PBL and SEL. Plus it includes many practical protocols (like the previously mentioned KARE GAP) never shared before. 

This book will absolutely demonstrate how to grow your students’ SEL skills inside of a PBL framework.


Don’t take my word on it. Here are a couple of endorsements from education leaders:

Too many schools think that SEL is a purchased curriculum, complete with once-a-week activities for 30 minutes. In this incredibly impactful book, the authors show us – through concrete, specific examples – how deeper, more authentic inquiry- and problem-based learning experiences are the true path to achieving those SEL competencies that we know our children need. The pulse metaphor of this book is a perfect fit and the learning stories contained within resonate powerfully. I can’t recommend this book highly enough for any educator who believes in whole child education, student agency and voice, and deeper, more meaningful learning.

Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D.; Professor of Educational Leadership and founding director, CASTLE

Pulse of PBL might be the best Project Based Learning book I’ve ever seen. And it’s not just because it’s full of concrete, usable practices for educators rather than just theories and ideas, but because it successfully shows how to plan learning experiences that connect content with the heart. Mike and Matinga teach us how to tie SEL into authentic PBL projects. Using the power of authenticity that comes from PBL, while considering the diverse backgrounds, needs, and passions of students, we can create deep and meaningful learning. This book is full of stories, research, and practices that can absolutely transform the way you teach, and more importantly, it can transform the way you see your students. When this happens, the potential for their success in and out of your classroom is limitless.

Trevor Muir, teacher, speaker, and author

In The Pulse of PBL, authors Kaechele and Ragatz avoid buzzwords and quick fixes as they make a convincing case for integrating Social and Emotional Learning and Project Based Learning. Instead, they guide readers to understanding with compelling examples, practical strategies, and their own deep commitment to providing students with the education they deserve. This is a resource that teachers will return to again and again as they put these concepts into action with their own students. 

Suzie Boss, PBL advocate and author
 

Learn with me!

If you are interested in how your school can use a PBL framework to teach SEL skills. I would love to have a conversation on how I can help. I am scheduling PBL & SEL workshops for this summer right now. Check out my workshop page or drop me an email at mikejkaechele@gmail.com. I would love to chat and co-plan meaningful PD for the educators at your school.

One and done Professional Development is ineffective. Here’s a great little post about questions you should be asking before you hire a consultant. I would be glad to develop a vision with you!