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Engage! Learning



Harts Bluff ISD is excited to partner with Engage! Learning to bring the Engage! Learning Model (ELM) to our students. This model builds on the direction that Harts Bluff has been moving its instruction for the last several years.  By providing authentic, engaging, relevant activities to our students, we are fulfilling the goal of our district to produce ENGAGED students who are making real-world connections to their learning; ENERGIZED students, full of wonder and inquisitive to learn more; and PREPARED students, who are ready to be successful in high school, college, or the workplace.  


Below are linked several resources that will help parents become better acqainted with ELM.  We hope you find them useful.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the school.



Alvin ISD and Engage! Learning




Project-Based Learning

What is PBL?  According to the Buck Institute"students go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex questions, problem, or challenge.  Rigorous projects help students learn key academic content and practice 21st Century Skills (such as collaboration, communication & critical thinking)." Some characteristics include:

  • Students are at the center of instruction.
  • Projects incoprorate instructional objectives into real-life learning experiences.
  • Teachers have opportunities to assess student learning at various times throughout the learning process.
  • Students show mastery of content through an authentic performance or product.
  • Problem-solving skills are essential to the learning process.
  • Teachers use various instructional strategies in order to accomodate multiple learning styles.
  • The format of PBL allows teachers more freedom to move around the room guiding and assisting students.

Misconceptions of PBL

  • Projects are to be done outside of class.  
  • Projects take a long time and are hard to keep focused.
  • Students get to choose what they study in PBL and therefore do not always learn all the correct content.
  • Projects all look the same at the end.
  • Projects have to be large and expensive.

Research behind PBL

  • The Buck Institute is the leading group of researchers for PBL.  On their webpage, they include research from other sources that have looked at the effectiveness of PBL in schools.  

How does technology work with PBL?

  • Technology is a tool to assist students in completing projects.  Because so much of our world is technology-based, students must be able to use technology to help them solve real-world problems.  
  • The International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) has developed technology objectives for "learning, leading, and teaching in the digital age."  These objectives, called National Educational Techology Standards, provide technology standards that need to be taught in schools.  There are objectives for each of the following groups:



What’s the Difference Between “Doing Projects” and Project Based Learning ?

© Amy Mayer, @friEdTechnology, The Original WOW! Academy, Please copy and use freely!



Projects . . .

Project Based Learning . . .

Can be done at home without teacher guidance or team collaboration.

Requires teacher guidance and team collaboration.

Can be outlined in detail on one piece of paper by the teacher.

Includes many “Need to Knows” on the part of the students and teachers.

Are used year after year and usually focus on product (make a mobile, a poster, a diorama, etc.).

Is timely, complex, covers many TEKS, and takes a team of highly trained professionals significant time to plan and implement.

The teacher work occurs mainly after the project is complete.

The teacher work occurs mainly before the project starts.

The students do not have many opportunities to make choices at any point in the project.

The students make most of the choices during the project within the pre-approved guidelines. The teacher is often surprised and even delighted with the students’ choices.

Are based upon directions and are done “like last year.”

Is based upon Driving Questions that encompass every aspect of the learning that will occur and establishes the need to know.

Are often graded based teacher perceptions that may or may not be explicitly shared with students, like neatness.

Is graded based on a clearly defined rubric made or modified specifically for the project.

Are closed: every project has the same goal. (As in the example below, the end result is always The Alamo.)

Is open: students make choices that determine the outcome and path of the research.

Cannot be used in the real world to solve real problems.

Could provide solutions in the real world to real problems even though they may not be implemented.

Are not particularly relevant to students’ lives.

Is relevant to students’ lives or future lives.

Do not resemble work done in the real world.

Is just like or closely resembles work done in the real world.

Do not include scenarios and background information or are based on events that have already been  resolved.

The scenario or simulation is real or if it is fictitious, is realistic, entertaining, and timely.

Are sometimes based around a tool for the sake of the tool rather than of an authentic question. (Make a Prezi.)

Use technology, tools, and practices of the real world work environment purposefully. Students choose tools according to purposes.

Happen after the “real” learning has already occurred and are just the “dessert.” May be used as a summative assessments.

Is how students do the real learning.

Are turned in.

Is presented to a public audience encompassing people from outside the classroom.

Are all the same.

Is different.