Ross and Erin wrote the book they wish they had when they started Project-Based Learning and we are here for it! Curious about the multiple entry points to implementing best practices? Wanna know one of Erin's core leadership practices? Press that play button! This episode is packed with inspiration and practical tips for making PBL approachable and accessible.
Special Guests: Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy, Ed.D.
Ross Cooper is an administrator in New York. Apple Distinguished Educator. Google Certified Innovator. Project Based Learning & Inquiry. Speaker. Author RealPBL.com. #RealPBL
Erin Murphy is co-author of Project Based Learning: Real Questions. Real Answers. How to Unpack PBL and Inquiry and Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom, and she regularly consults with other leaders and learners regarding literacy, learning, and leadership. Erin earned her Doctorate of Education from Vanderbilt University with a research focus on adult learning.
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Brianna Hodges 0:00
Welcome to Lemonade Learning, a refreshing look at learning today. We serve up high impact, practical strategies, alongside honest and energizing stories to help educators.
Lainie Rowell 0:12
Make the most of your moments. Lead and learn with purpose and craft lifetime lemonade from the sweets and sours of education. Join us for a glass.
Brianna Hodges 0:24
Hey, everybody, it's Bri.
Lainie Rowell 0:26
And Lainie. Welcome, we've got another twofer. We've got Erin Murphy and Ross Cooper. And I'm going to talk to you Ross to go ahead and introduce yourself first.
Ross Cooper 0:36
Yep. So as you said, my name is Ross Cooper, currently an assistant principal in elementary school in Westchester, New York. Before that, I've been a fourth grade teacher, I've been a elementary school principal K through 12, curriculum supervisor, that's kind of boring. I started with all these titles. Um, so from an educational standpoint, yes, that's where I am. I guess I probably should have started with my why my big why for doing all this, I think is like this whole idea that, you know, be the person or be the educator, you need to when you were younger, and I absolutely love working with students. And you know, this whole idea of student empowerment, student voice and choice student centered learning, and just, you know, meeting students where they are, rather than students meeting us where they are. And that's really my why for becoming an educator, and my "why" for why I do what I do every day.
Lainie Rowell 1:28
I love it. Aaron, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Erin Murphy 1:32
My name is Erin Murphy. And I am currently the humanities supervisor in a district right outside Allentown, Pennsylvania. And super recently, I am also serving as the interim middle school principal. So that is just another extra little extra hat right now. And I taught kindergarten, second, third, fifth grade, spend some time as a technology coach. And most recently, I also I just finished my doctorate from Vanderbilt. Yeah. So I focused on adult learning theories and adult learning. So I'm super excited to be here.
Lainie Rowell 2:10
That's a passion of mine. So we will have to chat more about that. So I didn't hear... Bri, did I miss it? Did either of them say author?
Brianna Hodges 2:17
No, no, neither. They did not. So and not just not just one. But we got a couple. So here we go. Let's talk about this. Let's let's chat a little bit about some books.
Lainie Rowell 2:27
Do you want to mention titles? one's pretty new, I know that we don't have a lot of people watch, because we don't talk about the fact that we have a YouTube one as well. So most people are listening. They don't know I'm waving around. So the latest book is called Well, I'll talk about the old book. So the old book was Hacking Project Based Learning. That was our first foray. And I think it's funny that we, I don't know, like, you know, I don't think we wrote a book for the purpose of like, we wanted to write a book so much like, we wanted to tell the story of how we learned how to do project based learning, and how we learn how to do it effectively. So hacking PBL was our first sort of step into that. And then the second book was sort of a not so much an encore as a more. So Ross, do you want to talk a little bit about the new book?
Ross Cooper 3:14
Yeah, um, I think it was kind of, you know, we published I think the first book came out maybe like three and a half, four years ago. And it was like, okay, since then we've done a lot of presenting consulting, work in and out of our districts, and it's like, okay, now we have more to say. So that's how the second book came about. And I think actually, the second book in a way, like it encompasses all the best from the first book, I think, in a way kind of almost makes the first book obsolete. And I probably shouldn't be saying that. But I think I think if you buy the first book, and you've really read it, and process that you maybe don't need the first book. So I would just recommend the second book. But it's really we had more to say. And I think also it was, I felt like personally, and I think I could speak for Aaron, too, was that there was a need for a practical kind of like down to earth PBL book, I think project based learning is one of those things where like, we've all been introduced to it by our districts, probably right in some way, shape, or form at a certain point in time. And we've seen these videos, and it's like, it's, that's, that's great, but like, like cutting through the clutter, like, what is it? And how do we do it? I still think like those answers, in a way, like haven't aren't really out there or weren't really out there in an accessible practical way. Yes, you could probably find them like a genius hour design thinking things that are a little bit more straightforward where the process and the steps are a little bit more straightforward when it comes to PB when it came to PBL. I think there was still some demystifying that needed to be done. Right, and some lingering questions that were out there. And that's really what we tried to encompass in that book. So not only is it something that's like near and dear to our hearts, but we thought like there was a need for this. There's a need for this all encompassing book that answers those practical those questions in a practical way.
Lainie Rowell 5:05
Yeah. Well, and I'm a huge fan of the book. And as someone who has done professional learning for my peers about project based learning, and unfortunately, it hasn't usually been the way that I would like it to be where it's an ongoing job embedded support thing. It's usually like a district or schools like we want to do project based learning, Lainie, can you come in and do six hours? And I'm like, Yes, but what's the plan for when I leave. And so I would actually feel very good saying, get Ross and Erin's book because this is going to really help you move that forward. And one of the things I love that you say in the book, and I actually think it's from your first book is that project based learning is like a series of best practices join together. And I think let's leave that as a teaser. And we'll get to your sweet and sour. Bri laughing because I'm like, so checking boxes, she knows how linear I am. And if we like go out of order, and sweet and sour, I will possibly have a seizure and stroke out. It's just, it's gonna be hard for me. So I'm going to toss to Erin for years sweet and sour, and then we'll get back to talking about project based learning.
Erin Murphy 6:13
Okay, so something sweet so like something good happening. Well, my my girls and I got to go kayaking this morning on one of my favorite lakes nearby. So that's probably my that's the first sweet that came to mind.
Lainie Rowell 6:25
That's pretty sweet.
Erin Murphy 6:26
Yeah, and I guess my sour is this terrible tik tok thing going around with our middle and high schoolers where kids are like, trashing bathrooms and stealing stuff. It's horrible magic. So that's my sour.
Lainie Rowell 6:39
I just read about that this morning. I feel like an old person who doesn't know what 's going on.
Erin Murphy 6:45
We had sinks torn off a wall. It was like it was something out of a movie. I can't even so that's my sour.
Ross Cooper 6:57
Yeah, my sweet is I mean, I'll keep it education related is I could say I'm tremendously proud of where we are as a school where I am now at Roaring Brooks School at Chappaqua Central School District. But the last two years, I was talking to some one of my co workers this morning, the last two years have been the hardest two years of my career, you know, for various reasons, moving to a new district, the pandemic and all that. And yes, we're still in the middle of a pandemic, but I'm where we are as a building and the way that the teachers that I serve and co workers have persevered, has been probably the most inspiring thing that I've seen, I think about 12 years, I've been in education, about 12 years, in the 12 years, I've been in education. And it feels like we could finally kind of breathe again. At least I could speak for myself, like we could finally kind of read again, yes, we're still going through things, but it's like, okay, like, we could take a deep breath. And there's just, there's a little bit more time now, like during the day, there was time to have good conversations. There's, I think, gonna be a good amount of time this year to focus on curriculum instruction actually centering the students, which is why we got into this in the first place. So that's really my sweet. My sour, that's interesting. Um, I don't know, I'm not, I'm not entirely sure.
Lainie Rowell 8:18
I mean, it's hard when you're here with us to think about anything that's not amazing.
Ross Cooper 8:24
No, I mean, you know, everything's good. I mean, I don't know, I don't really have like a sour I know. I don't really have like a sour right now, I think, I think I think if anything, like building off of the suite is like, you know, the amount of work that needs to be done. There's, there's like, no matter where you are, like everybody's learning and everybody's growth, and everybody's school and district is in a different place. And I think the amount of work that we have in front of us can be a little bit daunting. And I think it's a matter of, you know, this whole idea of like mile wide inch deep if you try to focus on too much you don't get anything done well. So it's focusing on like, what are we going to prioritize? What are those couple things we're going to prioritize and just digging in deep and being effective? So I think I think the work, you know, it could be daunting. So that might be this hour that you know, that the thinking about? Like, what the work that lies ahead. Yeah.
Lainie Rowell 9:13
Well, and I know for me, like, one of the struggles that I'm having is we know there's work to be done. And it's like, Okay, let's go, Oh, you're not ready. Okay, okay, we're good. We're good. Like, you know, how do I, you know, how do we move forward when I'm not sure how the others I work with are how ready are they if that makes any sense? Like I, I want to that's kind of my coping mechanism is I kind of over-function. And so I worried that me over-functioning is going to stress other people out, and that's not how they cope. And so I think that for me, that's one thing I'm probably struggling with Bri probably feels that.
Ross Cooper 9:47
I'll chime in and if because this this came up recently in a conversation like if you No, no, like, if you're not sure if the people you work with are ready. Ask them. Yeah, that might sound like that might be like "duh" that doesn't just don't get out through that doesn't always happen. The same. So, yeah,
Brianna Hodges 10:07
Well, I mean, I think that that's, you know, between the two of you, I think that that's one of the things that is a huge connection piece, because given all that is going on, you know, and trying to prioritize where do we lean in? Where do we lead? Where do we maintain? Right? Like, I mean, I think that that's one of those those elements in education, regardless of a pandemic, whatever is going on, we're always trying to find out like, where do we, where do we need to, you know, turn the dial up a little bit, and like, really make sure that we're getting this in? Where do we feel like, okay, yes, we've got some consistency in here. And so now we're able to kind of like, move forward. And then where do we just kind of like, okay, that's, we're gonna have to triage that and come back to that at another place. And I think that, you know, to me that that really does mirror a lot of the philosophy of PBL, right like that, it's not just going to be this, like, one solution. Now we go, we grab it off of the shelf, and we just push it forward. But instead, we're, you know, we're really going to try to adapt it and and make sure that it's its individual, and it really does reflect what's happening at the same time, like, both of you are very, very passionate about this topic. And it can be, you know, oftentimes misconstrued to where people are just thinking like, yep, I like PBL, we do a project once a year, and everything's great and check, now we're done. And, but at the same time, like, it is such a nebulous topic, that it can also become very overwhelming, where people feel like, Oh, I need to have a PhD in PBL, in order to be able to know, to throw that out there for you Erin, like, how do we so so? How are both of you like, what are your takes on that? How do you keep in mind that really, truly right now with a lot of the things that are happening through the transitions that we're in, in education, that we are kind of in an opportunity, where we can create a lot more focus on leveraging PBL, where we really have some environmental characteristics that are letting that happen. But at the same time, we've got a lot of people that are already wide-eyed and with everything else that's going on, and they feel like okay, now great, you're going to take away or not take away but like now, you're going to push me in a way that I'm not really prepared for so how are you guys seeing that? What are your options and choices and some, you know, maybe even some some bits of advice that we can take away from this?
Erin Murphy 12:48
I'm gonna I would I'm gonna jump in, because there's one thing that like, really stood out to me as you were sort of explaining that context, right? So like, Where are the Where are the push points that we can move forward right now? versus what do we need to just like wait for? So there's a district that I've been working with pretty closely in New Jersey and Lainie, I can't remember what they were talking about this before we started or, you know, in the meeting, but we were talking about like the fact that often like those once and done PDs are not as effective as like long term coaching. And luckily, I've been working with this district for a really long time. And one of the things I've been pushing on there has been audience, right. So like, one of the core components of project based learning is the audience the students are creating for. And I think that perhaps one happy accident that comes is coming out of the pandemic is, the tools that we now like use almost like a second nature are changing the audience that students can access for their work, like, I can very easily now Zoom with an architect who is really good at building things underwater, like I can very easily, you know, contact that my local Congress person, like, I know how to use these tools that perhaps in the past, we've been hesitant to give to our students. So that was something that they were all sort of like, Oh, I can do that. Now. That's no problem. So that's definitely one push point that can be easily changed now that we've adapted to this, like, gray school world.
Ross Cooper 14:20
I think also, it's like, I've seen this, like, during the pandemic, and not during a pandemic is like, when we specialize in something, we convince ourselves, that's what our school needs, right? So like, we could just use project based learning as an example. Like, you know, we hired the PBL guy, we hired the guy who wrote a PBL book, that must, you know, that must mean we're all gonna have to do PBL or, you know, we're like standards based grading, right? Like, like, you know, you come into a district as a new administrator. And it's like, I know what the solution is like, this is what we need to do. And I think it's focusing on like, what's right and not what's easy, right? And like really just taking an objective look at, like where you are, and saying, like, what do we need and then doing that collaboratively? Right? This idea of once again, asking people, and really like, a lot of times, I think we say we're gauging the pulse of people. But we're really just convincing ourselves that we want to go into the direction that we want to go in, or that we need to go into the direction that benefits us right? Or that we're that we want to go in. And I think it's easy to do that. And that's one of the reasons why I like this whole like narrative like, oh, like, because of the pandemic, now schools are ripe for change. We don't want to go back to what, you know, happened before and I will enter or what was taking place before? And I think to an extent that is true, but I think to an extent that narrative, is that who's spreading that, right? Like, is it being spread by the teachers who are in the classroom each and every day? Is it being spread by our community and our students? Or is it being spread by so called, like change agents who want to implement something that benefits them? You know, so just throwing that out there? So I think I think it's a, it's a matter of like looking objectively at where we are in collaboratively, kind of deciding what we should prioritize and where we need to go. I will say in the district that I'm in now, that being said, we are doing project based learning. But I will say the way I the way I tackled it was I've been where I am for two years now and always like relationships first, right? Always relationships first. Granted, we could always get better in that area. But I do honestly think that's something I prioritize. And then when the new book came out, I think it was like last April or May, I wanted, I wanted my teachers to get it. I wanted the teachers that I served to have it. But I didn't know, I didn't charge them or anything like that. I didn't say like Venmo. Me, I know Erin did that. I didn't do it. No, I'm kidding. But like I didn't want to do it... you want to do it in a way. Like if this is like the I really value the people that I work with. And I really value this work. So therefore I wanted the people I serve to have this work, if that makes sense. So how do you do that? In a way? That's not kind of like, how do you do that in the right way. And I asked a couple of our teachers and they said just throw the books into the faculty room, you know, and you know, and then shoot out an email and say, if you want one, grab a copy. And it was neat, like, like they were gone. And then like I had to put more in there and more in there. And some of them wanted me to autograph it and it meant a lot. And then organically some of them said Are we going to do anything with this, like, you want to do something with this, we can. So over the summer, we put together what we call in my district, like a learning team, which is 15 hours of professional learning. So it's like a full day over the summer. And then six hours during the school year spread out across for one and a half hour sessions for a total of 15 hours. So we did a learning team. And I want to say you know, so we put it out across the district. But I will say I think about like 15 teachers from the school on that joined, which is like awesome, you know, so it's like more organic, rather than saying you have to do this. So that's like one way to tackle it once again, like not really more of a pull than a push, I think and also relationships first. If this was my first year in the school, or my second year, I'd probably handle it in a little bit of a different way. Or the teachers would have probably been like, who the heck is this guy pushing his book on us? Right? So. So I think that illustrates importance of relationships and sometimes pulling rather than pushing.
Well, and you're so naturally doing choice, right? That's in your DNA. And it would feel probably a little ironic, if you're, like, read my book about choice. You have no choice, read this book. But I really do hope people read the book again, I and I know Bri is a huge fan of project based learning too. And I think that it can feel overwhelming. But the way that you all have written the book with multiple entry points is super accessible. So I really appreciate that. Because I feel like we can all have that focus, like Erin was talking about the authentic audience can be a focus, right? Um, for me questioning is usually what I lead with when I work with a group, you know, I'll do the Question Formulation Technique, and I'm really pushing for inquiry. Because I feel like for me, that's the way... that's like the gateway to PBL, like, I'm just gonna get them started. And then I will encourage them... lately I've been saying, as much as you can and is appropriate, delay direct instruction, like if you when you're doing your planning can think about how you can delay direct instruction to give more options for exploration and investigation on the front side than that, that's really starting to lead down that path. And you know, there's the there's lots to do with PBL. There's lots of components but I really just love how you make it very accessible. Like here's the best practice If you put all of these together, you're doing project based learning.
Yeah, you hinted, you talked about that during the webinar that you did Lainie, the idea of like the five E's, engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. And we actually, we thought about doing mentioned those five E's during, in the inquiry chapter. And sometimes it's like, it turns into buzzword Bingo. So we left that we left that out. But that's really what it is like looking at it. Like, we have this idea that gradual release, and errorless learning is the way to go. And I think it's like a paradigm shift, like, how do we not do that? The other thing I'll say, in that regard is to is like this idea of, like, PBL initiatives, you know, like, so like, I'll just be blunt, like, I've heard in the past, through my experiences that like, you know, like, so like, I write about PBL, speak about PBL, like, that's what Erin and I do. Well, you know, all that stuff. And like, and then it's like, well, what is he doing in his district? Like, why is there no PBL initiative? Like he's a fraud? And I've been called the fraud, but I love it. It's great. So,
Lainie Rowell 20:57
That's the New Yorker in you. I don't think most people love that. But yeah,
Ross Cooper 21:01
I don't care, you know, throw stones at me, I don't care. So I think like, I think it's this idea that like, one like you have to be ready for it, right? Like, like relationships first, like, so if somebody's saying, if somebody's saying you're a fraud, maybe that person doesn't understand culture, but also maybe that person doesn't really understand project based learning. And this idea that, like, if you're focusing on like inquiry in your focus on flexible seating, and you're focusing on like, effective feedback, those are all components of PBL. So like, it's really just, it's good practice. So like, this idea of having to do PBL, because you're not doing it because like, my district or my school isn't necessarily doing a PBL initiative, doesn't mean I'm not actively promoting PBL in my space. Does that make sense? Like, so it's not black and white, you know, there's plenty of building blocks, and you could be focusing on one of those building blocks. And the same for a lot of other practices, too. I not a fraud? Well, maybe I am. I don't know.
Lainie Rowell 21:57
You're not, you're not!
Erin Murphy 21:58
Lainie, you said something else that I think was like that... If I had to choose one word about, you know, what do I wish for people approaching project based learning, I think the word is probably "approachable", because I think that for a really long time, people and organizations were working really hard to like, put PBL up on this on a pedestal almost and make it seem like it was only accessible to certain people that were able to do it in this particular way. And I just think I have a problem with pedestals. That's a whole other podcast, maybe. But I, you know, I just so I think that being able to make it approachable and look at it as the individual components and finding your entry point and finding where you are on the continuum. I think that that's really the way that I like to think about project based learning.
Lainie Rowell 22:52
And I think, to be honest, and I really don't want this to turn into anything negative, but I feel like there was in an effort to contrast project oriented learning with project based learning, there was almost some shaming, almost like, I tend to kind of go with what you're saying about the pedestal like, Well, no, no, if you're not doing it exactly like this, you're not doing it. Don't you dare call it that. So again, I just really gravitate towards how accessible it is. And you know, you guys talk about the Gradual Release of Responsibility. And that happens for all learners, as Bri would say, at all ages and stages, right? So it's not just gradual release for kids, it's for adults, as well. So bringing things into their practice as it's appropriate. I don't know. What do you think Bri?
Brianna Hodges 23:36
Well, I think I mean, one of the questions that I keep coming back to in my head, as you guys are talking is that I would love for you to do so I'm going to preface it while I talk real quick. So you can think is, if you had if you could just kind of define PBL for people like for the average person. What would that be to help people you know, I mean, I love Erin that you said approachable. I do think it's one of those and I time we have a session I ended up using this phrase, but I do feel like PBL ends up being one of those Princess Bride words right? Like where we always say like, this is a word that you don't think... it's like you you keep saying this word but you really don't know what this word means. And I think that that is something that happens and it because in a lot of it is because it crosses into so many different synonyms and different things like that was right like we start throwing out inquiry we start drawing like, like we have so many different touch points for that word that I also think that in an effort to make it accessible and approachable for many people we oftentimes convoluted instead of creating, you know, kind of an opportunity for people to really come at it at their own accord and so that so so now that I've said that enough, I think I've bought you enough time like what is it distilled definition That if you only had like 15 seconds with a faculty that you would be like, this is what PBL is, what would your answer to that be?
Erin Murphy 25:11
I have one. I'm going to go first, Ross.
Ross Cooper 25:15
Sure. Yeah, go ahead.
Erin Murphy 25:18
I think that the simplest way I have described it, and I think we say this in the book, too, is "learning through doing", like, if I had to use an economy of words, that's it learning through doing
Lainie Rowell 25:30
Alright, Ross. That's, that's pretty succinct. I mean, what would you say?
Erin Murphy 25:34
His won't be that susinct.
Ross Cooper 25:40
I think when you... Lainie, you talked about inquiry, and inquiry could be applied to anything like an activity, a lesson, a unit, which is why it's such a great entry point into project based learning. So I think when you have inquiry, like student are basically students are learning through investigation and exploration. To me, that's like what inquiry is. And when you have inquiry span across an entire instructional unit, that's when your project based learning. So to me, I define project based learning as an inquiry based unit. I think, also, it's an inquiry based instruction unit at its core, that's what it is. Now, you could start saying it needs to have certain components, right? Like, if you look at the components, like, like, you need to have an authentic audience, you need to have student voice and choice, you need to add feedback you like so you could have all those components too. But at its core, it's really about student inquiry. And I'll say, I'll say one more thing about because I've been on this kick for a couple years now about like this idea of defining something, I think it's important as, as a as an organization that you have a definition. And it's okay, that if your definition is a little bit different than another organization's definition, but I think it's the idea that when we're saying something, when we're saying the same thing, well, meaning the same thing. And I think that's really important, not just with project based learning, but anything else, and or any other initiative or whatever, or instructional shifts, or whatever it might be. But I think it's important also not to weaponize that definition. Like if I'm an administrator, I'm going into your classroom. If someone's if like a third grade teacher, I'll give a shout out to like a third grade teacher I work with Melissa Billings, and she's wonderful if I go and she's like, come come to my classroom and see me do project based learning. And, and I go in there and well, that's not that's not PBL. Or that's, you know, I mean, like like that I'm essentially weaponizing it as an administrator and saying, You're not doing what you're supposed to be doing the same thing with anything else, right? Like that's not differentiated instruction that's not reading and writing workshop. And when we talk in those terms, we may be intentionally or unintentionally, like, weaponize this definition. And I think rather than approaching instructional leadership and coaching through that lens, it's more like, that's great. I love what you're doing. Now let's discuss how to make it more student centered. Right. Now let's discuss how you chose your audience and how you might do that, again, with more intentionality. Right? So you have this definition. You're using it to promote a clear vision. But once again, you're not holding it over like people's heads. I think that's I think that's really important. So, But to answer your question, succinctly PBL is an inquiry based unit. Yeah, I like that.
Brianna Hodges 28:15
I think I mean, I think that it's, and I appreciate the coming to that common understanding and definition of it, too. I think that that is, just like you said, so important for whatever we're talking about, whether it's, you know, educational theory, or, or our practices that we're trying to put forward in the school, you know, having that common understanding that common vision of what it is that we're trying to achieve, allows us to, to really internalize and create our individual method for
Erin Murphy 28:49
I heard a dog start barking.
Brianna Hodges 28:51
Yeah. So you know, they want to, they wanted to jump in on that as well. They thought that they really liked that they wouldn't be give us some props for that. I think that it is, it's super important to to have that. Like, I know, a lot of times people push back. I worked with a superintendent who really did he resisted to define things because he wanted people to feel that they could have their own interpretation on that. And, and I pushed back on that a little bit with the, you have to have a common embrace of that term. Like we all have to speak a similar language in order to then put our own spin on it, right, like, you know, we can have we can all say like, here's the shirt that you're going to wear or you know, you need to wear a shirt, but you don't have to say this is the only shirt that's available. Right. So like, I think it's giving that a you know, the more that we the more that we can understand what the parameters are, you know, I mean like to borrow from design thinking right? Like the more constraints that we have that we understand, this is where our you know, these are the the pillars And our walls that we have, then we know how to color it the way that we want it to be in order to get that across. So I think that's really great advice. From that implementation standpoint of understand come to it, don't just make it that. I have a phrase that I call bobblehead implementation, right? Like where one person is like, Hey, we're gonna go and do this. And they just throw it out there. everybody's like, Yeah, Yeah, we are. And we have no idea what we're talking about. But we're just doing it because the boss said that we were going to do it. And instead, we really have to, like, make sure that we're all bobbing our head and unison, like, at least we got to get something going correct. in that, in that to where we know that we're following that in those same pieces.
Erin Murphy 30:44
I wrote that down. I like that bobblehead implementation? Well, you know, I was thinking, you know, I that Knoster, managing complex change chart, I always get into that. And so I hear you both talking about like, one of the, you know, what's the first thing vision, when that's missing? What does that lead to confusion? And so when we're not defining these terms, when we're not giving that clear vision, that is going to lead to confusion. And how am I gonna know if I'm successful if I don't know where you want me to be? If you give me the destination? I'll find the way there with some support, but I need I need some help with where do I want to be? Where do you need me to be?
Ross Cooper 31:22
I think, um, sometimes I think the biggest issue in that regard is like, sometimes we think we're being clear, but we're not.
Lainie Rowell 31:29
That's true. It so clear in my head.
Ross Cooper 31:34
Yeah, exactly. Because you because you've been obsessing about it for the past, like year, you've been reading books on it, you've been reading articles on it, you might maybe went to a full day of professional development on it, but you're the people you serve that into anything, right? So so it's like, all your knowledge and all your experiences, and just gonna magically reach them unless the proper communication takes place. I think, um, we show we, during during PBL session, Erin and I, we haven't shown this video in a while, but it was there was this like insurance company... It was like this video. It's like, the guy comes in. And he's like, what is the video? It's like, like, you have a termite problem. Yeah, it's like, yeah, there's termites. And then like, he just leaves, right. And it's like, like, there's an issue. And it's like, the equivalent of saying that teachers like you need to do PBL. Oh, you need to differentiate, the one I hear the most is like, you need to do a better job of personalizing your learning for your students.
Lainie Rowell 32:25
Oh, that's super clear.
Ross Cooper 32:27
Right. But like, we think we're being clear, we're not right. So it's like ambitions in the absence of explicit strategies. And that leads to anxiety. Right? And, and then even if you dig deeper, like if I was a teacher and administrator came into my room and said that, like, Oh, you need to do a better job personalizing learning for your students. Okay, how, right? Yeah. And then could that person even answer that question is another story. So I think it's really, really over, you can never really over communicate, right, like over communicate? Yeah, just making sure that we're being entirely clear. I mean, I yeah, yeah. So
Erin Murphy 32:59
One of my, like, core leadership practices now, which, again, as most of our core practices, as they develop is usually because you did something wrong. So something that I did wrong, that now I have learned to do better is I'm really clear about what I'm not saying also, so after something's communicated, and I think this has been so critical over the last, you know, surviving through the pandemic, is like, okay, so I just said all these words that you let me be really clear. In summary, this is what I'm not saying. So, like, I'll take Ross's personalized learning example, like, I want you to personalize learning, and then I probably set a whole bunch of words that you. I'm not saying you need to start this tomorrow. I'm not saying that you need to do this by yourself. I'm like, just being really crystal clear about that part too has been, I think, is really important from the, from the leadership lens.
Brianna Hodges 33:55
It that reminds me of a book that I did read in my master's program. And it's that telling is in training, right? So like, just because you told somebody doesn't mean that you explained it, just because you, you know, said this is what we're doing doesn't mean that you actually like brought brought in all of those elements, set up the environment and the, you know, the the the strategies that are really necessary, the resources that you need to make available to people, I think that is, is one of those pieces that that we forget, like we're like, yep, no, we said we were going to do it. And that means that, that this is what's happening. And you know, so I think keeping in mind, for our educators, whenever we are, you know, if we're leaving something like keeping in mind, just like in our classroom, we're gonna have some, we're gonna have some differentiation of readiness, and people are going to latch on to that at a different rate. We're going to see that happen in at our, with our adult learners as well with our educators at that point.
Lainie Rowell 34:57
Yep. So I want to share just the structure of the new book because this is part of to me, what makes it so accessible? And you you all talk about in the beginning, like this book is the answer to the questions you've been getting since you wrote the first book. And so I love how the structure of the chapters is is the most start with "how do I" and then its structure, the PBL experience, get grades conference with students, include direct instruction, it's all of these things that I have had a lot of educators come to me grappling with. And so you've given them some tools and some strategies to help them work through that. So I think that's really, really helpful. And I didn't hit all of the chapters, but I do think people should check it out if they want to learn about PBL. I think I have the book. I think I read the book in like three days because I just was so excited about it. I mean, I gave Ross a copy of Evolving Learner and I haven't heard a word, but that's okay. Cuz you know, he's a busy guy. And you know, he, he, you know, where were you last night for dinner? Communal Kitchen. I know that because you posted on Twitter. You're busy guy. So, um, but no, no money for for promoting the book. I just love it so much. And Erin, I think you appreciate when I tease Ross too. So hopefully
Erin Murphy 36:09
I do. I'm here for it.
Lainie Rowell 36:11
Okay, good. Okay, good. But no, I do love the structure of the book. And I love how you can actually just go to a section. Like if I'm really struggling with grades and PBL. Like, how does that look? I go to that section first like is am I am I saying that correctly? Like to me You don't need to read the book cover to cover, you can actually jump around to what your focus is at the time. Do you feel comfortable with me saying that?
Ross Cooper 36:35
Yeah, yeah, I think so. I think I think like to use your example, like if you if you go to, I think it's chapter two, how do I get grades? Is there might be some terms in there that are borrowed from another chapter, right? Like I think like progress assessment tool that you might have to flip to another chapter to figure out, excuse me exactly what that is. But for the most part, yes, you could do that. But I think also, what we are clear about is like we didn't just want a book of like FAQs. You know, we wanted to make sure that in reading through all these questions, we were giving you the forest from the trees, right, so like, not only are your questions being answered, but in reading the book from front to back, you're also learning how to essentially do project based learning, which I think is really important. We weren't we didn't want people to read this into like, Alright, I got my questions are answered. But I still don't know how to do PBL. So we wanted, we wanted to have both like we wanted, we wanted both to be packed into the book.
Erin Murphy 37:32
Right. I think like hacking project based learning what we did was we tried to make planning a project as like, simple, like the simplest terms possible. And then what would what would happen was we would go and we were present on that book, and we would present the content from that text. And then the people in the audience, rightfully so would be like, Yeah, but and how actually, and so we started to write down those questions. And, you know, we again, we sort of explained this at the beginning of the book, and they were the same all the time, all the time. So then we were sorted, then we were like, Okay, well, let's just like restructure here, let's just start with what we know, the questions are. And then we layered in the stuff from, like, the previous text about, like, how to plan it. So that's really how the text itself emerged. And really organic from like, what people really wanted to know. So I think that maybe that's why it. I appreciate all the kind words you're saying about it. Because I think that that's why people like it is because it is all the things that they had in their head, possibly before they even picked up the book.
Ross Cooper 38:42
So I think also, one more thing I'll add is that I think, I think we use this term and like, maybe the introduction is like a progressive educator toolkit, like almost like, if you're, this is like kind of a bit of a like a generalization. But like, if you're like an administrator, and you want your teachers to move forward with their practices, you want your building to be more innovative or progressive, blah, blah, blah, like, what book would you give that? And not just a book for inspiration, but the book to say, hey, like this book will actually show us how to do it. That's what we are trying to accomplish. And I think that like, yes, it has PBL in the title. But I think in to an extent, it hits upon all those things that that that teachers and educators we need to be "progressive", if that makes sense. And then I think, because we want it to be kinda like a toolkit. We intentionally referenced a lot of like, outside resources, you know, that and also we're standing on the shoulders of giants. So these ideas aren't always like our own originally. So we were intentional about like, like listing and having the names of and resources that have really inspired us along the way they're in there. And then it also intentionally, links to our books website to make those resources and people as accessible as possible. So that's kind of what I always think like, if you're like, once again, like if you're that if, like, okay, like, I'm a principal and I and we need to move into the 21st century, what is the book we give our teachers? You know what I mean? Like, there's so many out there, right? There's so many out there. And we wanted this to be one of those books.
Lainie Rowell 40:16
It's awesome. And I have checked out the website, and you all have some great resources there. In fact, I use your Gradual Release of Responsibility for moving from... and not that you would move away from teacher feedback. But how can we build on teacher feedback to go to peer feedback and to go to self feedback. So I hope I got those terms, right. But I actually have that in one of my slide decks, and I'm like, go check out their website. They've got lots of cool stuff. So I feel like I'm really fangirling on you guys this episode. But I do really love the book. And so I hope people check it out. And then Bri any last questions before we... I know, we got to let them go in a few minutes. And I want to make sure they have time to share their handles and how people can connect with them and get a copy of the book. Any any last thoughts? And then Erin and Ross, if you want to share anything as you're closing out, get that ready.
Brianna Hodges 41:06
I mean, I I could sit here and listen to you guys talk about this all day long. I truly think that that is... I think I can just basically echoing what Lainie has talked about, I mean, I think it's creating a very approachable and accessible, you know, like distilling this content, I think is really what what this is what the goal is of this. And it's not, you know, I mean, so many times we talk about like, especially in education, when we come across these ideas, when we come across these initiatives, we try to put them in a box. So we try to say like, Oh, we are doing this, right, like, I'm sure, you know, I will share the story of an educator who came up to me and was like, I need you to teach me the Twitter and I was like, Whoa, the Twitter, right? Like, what does this mean... why we didn't you know, and, and I know all of us, the four of us are really big believers in why I'm in Ross, you shared your why to begin with. And I think that that is one of those those elements that we have to know why we want to do this. And it's not that we want to do PBL, because we want to do PBL, it's because it allows us to really create, you know, synchronicity across learning. And it created takes that like we always talk about how Okay, well, you got to take this concept. And now you've got to take, you know, take the concept into the content. And now the contents got to now be applied into the context, let me get all of my initials and letters in the right order there. But when it's moving that into that context that we often struggle with. And I think a lot of times, it becomes an afterthought, we see that all the time in classes, we see it all the time in professional learning, even right like that we don't ever get to that context, we just talk about concepts and content. And instead, if we really, truly bring all of it together, and keep it tightly, you know, tightly create, you know, mix it in really, really well to where it's not just like an afterthought of that like nine week project at the very end. And now all of a sudden, you're going to somehow thread in those elements together. I think instead, like if keep in mind, that we're not adding new things, what we're really trying to do with PBL is, you know, create some of that, I think really even more like it's a more finely tuned focus, it allows you to create focus around context, instead of siloing things out based off of content. And, you know, I mean, one of my favorite parts, and in the book is when you talk about initiative, fatigue, and how we're just constantly adding, adding, adding, adding, adding, adding, adding, and while many people may hear like, Oh, great, now here come the PBL people that are gonna come in here and try to teach us something new, it actually almost becomes like a sieve or you know, a colander like to where now all of a sudden, we can kind of like strain a lot of this stuff out through there. Like we can use PBL to be like that, that vehicle that we can push a lot of this stuff through and really cross a lot of those initiatives out by allowing them to be implemented through this this form. So I just like those are the big things that I've gotten out of this. And I really appreciate how you guys have the transition that you've had along the way, right? Like from that first book of like, Okay, here we go. Here's our, you know, like, here's how we're going to do this. This is our experience with it. And this is what we did. And now just you know, again, I keep going back to Ross's why of like you want to create the school that you wish you had when you were growing up like now you wrote the book you wish you had when you started doing PBL. Like, I think you guys kind of did and I think that's like such a gift to all of us as educators. So thank you for that gift and for being with us here. So there you go.
Lainie Rowell 44:59
Awesome. All right, so I guess we'll do ladies first on this one. If that's not an antiquated notion. And Erin, just any final thoughts and then make sure to share your handles and how people can get in touch with you.
Erin Murphy 45:13
Sure, no, I just I really appreciate it being here. It's so it's so incredible to have the opportunity to talk about teaching and learning right now. I think that so much of our day to day is focused on like, the things that need to get done versus like having the opportunity to talk about or think about teaching and learning and instruction. So I enjoyed having this conversation with you all. So thank you so much for including us in your dialogue. And my Twitter handle is @MurphysMusings5. So that's Murphy's with an S, musings five, and my website is psumurphette.com. Don't let your newlywed husband pick your email address because it will haunt you for the rest of your life. And I blame my super long Twitter handle on Ross because he signed me up for Twitter and did not tell me that a short handle would be more effective. So that's all his fault.
Ross Cooper 46:16
Thats before I really knew about THE Twitter.
Erin Murphy 46:21
THE Twitter right?
Brianna Hodges 46:23
You could have used a class on THE Twitter like.
Erin Murphy 46:25
I could have. Ross taught me that in the back of our grad class. So we were having our own class while we were in grad class.
Ross Cooper 46:36
That was like 2012 I remember being in class with Erin...
Erin Murphy 46:40
Ross Cooper 46:40
2011 and being on Twitter chat in 2011 While in grad class. So yeah, my um, my handle is @RossCoops31. My website, I need to start blogging again. It's terrible. I haven't blogged every week. I'm like, I'm going to start blogging and I don't is RossCoops31.com. And my email is RossCoops31@gmail.com. So it's RossCoops31 for everything makes it easy. And the books website is real, PBL calm, by the way, real PBL calm. It's referenced in the book and everything there is free. Everything there is free. I think for a couple things, a couple ebooks that are on there, you need an email signup, but whatever. Everything's free. So we're not selling anything. And like I said, we created we created the website as the book was being written. So there's tight as the book was being written. So there's tight integration between the two.
Lainie Rowell 47:47
Absolutely I love it. Like I said, I literally went there. And I was like, maybe this graphic I want to use is there and I was like, yes, it is. And so then I'm... Y'all need to get this book that I got this graphic from. And of course I'm giving you guys credit and citing you. Um, this has been such a fun conversation. It's just been, like I as I've said several times, I really enjoyed the books and be able to have this chat with with all of you has been super fun. People, make sure to check out the book, go look up the website and follow Ross and Erin. They're amazing. And we're super grateful to have you here. So thanks for listening everyone.
See you again next time.
Brianna Hodges 48:32
If you enjoyed this batch of Lemonade Learning, please check out our website LemonadeLearning.us. For more resources, be sure to subscribe today, so you don't miss out on future lessons, laughter or lemonade.
Lainie Rowell 48:44
And if you're feeling really generous, please go to Apple podcasts to submit a review so other educators know the value. One last thing, learning and lemonade are best together so please connect with us on social media using #LemonadeLearning to share your story. Plus, we're always looking to giveaway stickers and swag.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai