How to Make a PBL with Google Sites

PBL. Whether you create problem-based learning or project-based learning activities, Google Sites are for you! Kids simply click on tabs to accomplish tasks.

This Hatchet PBL provides links, images, and text with background information to help kids find Brian's location.

Building a Google Site for PBL

Anyone can build a Google Site. When it’s done, you can share it with others. Kids with laptops, desktops, iPads, Chromebooks or any tablet, as well as phones can use a Google Site. (And they don’t need Google Classroom – or even Gmail accounts – to do it.)

PBL Example – Hatchet

Let’s look at a specific example. This PBL (for Hatchet by Gary Paulsen)engages kids in problem-based learning. What does that mean? For problem-based learning, kids start with a messy, ill-constructed problem. Often, a realistic prompt sets the stage.

PBL with Google Sites - Hatchet Prompt

These learning activities encourage critical thinking. Most times, there’s no right or wrong answer. Instead, students converge on a solution to the prompt.

Embedding Clues or Tasks

When you use Google Sites, it’s easy to embed links for student exploration. For this particular PBL, kids use clues from the book to find and rescue the main character, Brian.

PBL with Google Sites - Hatchet Clues

To lead students to the information you want them to see, just add pages. Here you see that each message, or clue, appears on its own subpage. Each was first created with PowerPoint. After saving as jpegs, they were inserted. Since I used the same picture for each page, replication was easy.

PBL with Google Sites - Hatchet Clues Dropdown Menu

Embedding Necessary Information for Student Research

For this activity, students need information about Canada, airplanes, and more. While older students may conduct their own research, I’ve found that providing links keeps younger children safe and on task.

PBL with Google Sites - Hatchet Research

Again, I added subpages, each with its own set of information. For example, this subpage provides links to various flight information.

PBL with Google Sites - Hatchet Flight Information

Converging with Paperless Options

Sure, kids can interact with content online and respond with paper and pencil. Now that so many kids have Chromebooks, however, I decided to go with an online option. (Note to TpT sellers: Yes, I did include the pdf in the resource. This gives teachers options.)

Hatchet Findings

When kids click a link, they see a prompt to copy the document. This forces a new Google Slide for them to work on.

Forcing Copy of Google Slide

In this PBL, students zero in on Brian’s location. For each clue, kids complete a map using Google Sites.

Map of Canada

Kids learn as they explore. They also engage more deeply with the novel they’re reading. And perhaps most important, they think critically and collaborate.

A Different Kind of PBL

Many teachers also use the term to represent project-based learning. What’s the difference? Essentially, not much. Project-based learning starts with a complex problem. In contrast, problem-based learning, as we discussed, begins with a messy or ill-constructed problem. Many people consider problem-based to be a subset of project-based learning. In any case, when kids use PBLs, they engage in collaborative problem-solving.

Google Sites in Your Classroom

When you build a Google Site to direct learning, it becomes student-centered. In addition to PBLs, you can also create websites to supplement learning, organize research, direct homework, flip your classroom. You can design independent learning moduleswebquests, novel studies, or even eBooks.

Take a look at 20 ways that Google Sites revolutionize teaching. Then get started!


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