Fusing Project-Based Learning in a Blended Learning Environment

Recently, I have accepted a new teaching position to work for a new campus as a Special Education Interventionist and Co-teacher in a 4th grade classroom. This campus is housed in a residential/treatment facility in which students come to school for half of the day Monday through Friday. They are receiving therapy services while accessing a blended academic environment. Luckily, in the past six months, I have developed an ePortfolio of work promoting Project Based Learning in a blended learning environment, so this assignment to map out my learners journey using Dee Fink’s 3-column framework will be directly beneficial in my new role beginning in August.

Dr. Dwayne Harapnuik (2016) suggests that it is our role to map the journey for our learners so they can see the bigger picture, understand where and why they’re on this journey, and connect what they’ve learned to real-world context. Seth Godin (2012) says it is about connecting the dots, not merely collecting them. It is important for us to understand how we will creatively enhance the learning environment so our learners are connecting rather than merely collecting information. The information is out there and accessible 24/7, so it’s our job to help map the journey for our life-long learners.

With this in mind, I have created an English Language Arts and Reading project fused within a blended learning environment. Learners will not only develop a persuasive advertisement for a novel of their choice, but they will also develop their own ePortfolios for reflection and discussion with peers. Their ePortfolios will enhance their collaboration with classmates, and create a digital footprint to share with a real-world audience. I believe it will foster creativity, cultivate new interests and appreciation for reading and writing. My hope is they will also learn vital social-emotional skills in this highly collaborative project.

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In planning this project, we were asked to consider many situational factors and learning goals that tie our students’ learning to the real world. The factors all contribute to formulating what Jim Collins (1994) named the BHAG or “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.” The BHAG is designed to help us clarify what our end goal is, and work backwards to incorporate the details. If the details will not contribute to the end goal, then they need to be reconsidered. It helps us consider all aspects of the learner’s experience, and how each goal will contribute or break the learning process. The BHAG is a clear and motivating goal that is designed to be measured so we know we have achieved our results.

It is crucial that our learners become critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers, self-aware contributors to society. Every learner deserves authentic opportunities to help them develop these indispensable skills. I believe that this project connects my desire to implement my innovation plan to further adopt PBL in every subject and every classroom. I am excited to see the effects it has in my classroom collective, and how it ignites new passions within my learners.


Collins, J. & Porras, J. (1994). Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York, NY: Harper Business.

Fink, L. D. (2005). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning.Retrieved from: https://www.deefinkandassociates.com/GuidetoCourseDesignAug05.pdf

Godin, S. (2012, October 16). Stop stealing dreams. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpbONjV1Jc&t=12s

Harapnuik, D. (2016, June 16). Mapping your learner’s journey. Retrieved from: http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=6420