2016 Online Symposium: Project-Based Language Learning: Inspiring Teachers, Transforming Learning

    On January 12-15, 2016, the Project-Based Language Learning (PBLL) Symposium will bring together experts, educational leaders, and world language teachers to foster the conversation on the potential for PBLL to transform and enhance language education. PBLL’s intersections with content-based instruction, task-based language learning, and performance assessment make it an ideal conduit to ground language learning on real needs and measurable outcomes.

    We invite language educators, policymakers, researchers, and innovators to join the conversation and help further refine the PBLL framework by anchoring it to issues and ideas that are relevant to language education. This unique FREE online event will provide attendees not only invaluable opportunities to access expertise in PBLL and engage in thought-provoking and constructive dialogues, but also a chance to network with professionals who are passionate about this topic.

    The symposium format makes it easy to integrate to busy schedules. Eight engaging presentations are followed by moderated participant discussions online. These interactive sessions are distributed across four days (i.e., two sessions per day). The five participants who most actively participate meaningfully in discussions will receive free enrolment in the Online Institute “Fundamentals of Project-Based Language Learning,” to be held the week after the symposium.


    Format & Tech Requirements

    WebEX presentations with discussions

    In order to participate in the online institute, you will need a computer with web browser and internet connection


    Dates & Times

    January 12-15, 2016

    Session times for the two daily sessions (90 minutes total) starting at:

    12pm Hawai‘i | 2pm PST | 3pm MST | 4pm CST | 5pm EST


    Session Content

    January 12

    Session 1: PBLL: Defining High Quality Project-Based Language Learning (Presenters: Lauren Scheller & Liliana Lopez)

    In this webinar, participants will be walked through a basic overview of how PBLL is different from “doing projects”. By illustrating an example of a common language project that was turned into a high quality PBLL project, participants will be able to define the elements of high quality PBLL.



    Session 2: Learning from Life: What Movies Can Teach Us About Scaffolding Language, Content, & Culture in Project-Based Language Learning (Presenter: Cherice Montgomery)

    Teachers are often reluctant to try project-based language learning because the complex content of “real life” seems more sophisticated than their students’ language skills.  In this symposium, we will explore the ways in which filmmakers and theatre directors skillfully guide audiences through unfamiliar content and situations to gain insight into how teachers might successfully scaffold “real life” learning experiences for learners.



    January 13

    Session 3: Creating Authentic Products, Doing Authentic Work (Presenters: Liliana Lopez & Lauren Scheller)

    Join us in deepening your knowledge of a tool created to help you assess the authenticity of your project.  The Project Square was developed during the PBLL Institute and supports PBL teachers  in aligning authentic products to authentic projects. Discussion will include the ideas of projects before and after the use of the product square.



    Session 4: Building Linguistic, Cultural and Global Competencies through Global-PBLL (Presenter: Janis Jensen)

    This session presents an overview of a STARTALK blended summer program that has successfully used Global-PBLL as the method of instruction over a four-year period with Hindi and Urdu secondary/post-secondary heritage language learners. Key features of the program include daily learner engagement in virtual cross-cultural interactions with students from partner schools in India/Pakistan using global issues as the context for learning and instruction. Learning experiences address all goal areas of the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages and foster the development of intercultural and global competencies. Data collected over multiple years show consistent growth in proficiency in targeted skill areas, as well as learners’ recognition that the ability to communicate effectively in the languages studied and to understand varying cultural perspectives provide access to resources and opportunities for collaboration that contribute to local/global improvement.



    January 14

    Session 5: Girl Power: Engaging Students in World Issues through PBLL (Presenter: Nicole Naditz)

    Join the 2015 National Language Teacher of the Year for an in-the-trenches look at a PBLL event occurring over the course of this school year. Because the students will still be working through this particular project at the time of the seminar, you will hear about how the project got started, how the students were engaged in the project, what the planned steps are for our project, where we are in the process at the time of the seminar and how we have adjusted based on “bumps in the road” on our journey to enhance the educational opportunities for girls in a village in the West African country of Togo.



    Session 6: A PBLL-designed Advanced Chinese Unit for a Distance Learning Course: Successes and Pitfalls (Presenter: Adam Ross)

    The Chinese American International School (CAIS) in San Francisco this year launched a fully online course in advanced Chinese for high school students. In an effort to engage students beyond traditional language learning activities, class instructors have designed PBLL units. This talk will introduce the PBLL units, discuss challenges implementing them in a distance learning format, show screencast examples of student online class discussions, show examples of student final projects in several units, and share student feedback about their engagement in the unit. The presenter will also discuss the pros and cons of using PBLL in an online class format.



    January 15

    Session 7: PBLL Project Design: Define and Assess Quality (Presenter: Yao Hill)

    What does a quality project-based language learning (PBLL) project mean and what should it look like? This webinar invites the participants to join the conversation in defining and assessing the quality of a PBLL project design. The presenter will introduce the PBLL project evaluation rubric, adapted from the Buck Institute’s Project Design Rubric, collaboratively further developed by the facilitators of the NFLRC 2015 PBLL in Action Intensive Summer Institute, and modified based on participants’ feedback.  The presenter will explain each evaluation criterion and provide examples of PBLL projects to illustrate quality design. The outcome of this webinar is for participants to be able to use the evaluation criteria to reflect and improve their own PBLL project design.



    Session 8: Preparing Teachers to Design Project-Based Language Learning Experiences (Presenters: Stephen Tschudi, Julio Rodriguez, Hui-Ya Chuang, & Ruslan Suvorov)

    This session will provide an overview of the Fundamentals of Project-based Language Learning (PBLL) Online Institute, an initiative launched by the National Foreign Language Resource Center at the University of Hawaiʻi to introduce foreign language professionals nationwide to the principles of PBLL and provide them with materials and resources for implementing this teaching method in their language courses and connect with colleagues with like interests. Reflecting on their experiences with the PBLL Online Institute, the presenters will discuss the development of PBLL training modules for language instructors, demonstrate some of the materials and resources on PBLL that were created as Open Educational Resources for the institute, introduce a digital badge system used for assessing participants’ achievement of learning objectives, and provide suggestions for facilitating the integration of the Online Institute in foreign language teacher education and professional development programs.