Week 5: Project-based learning resources

pbworks (one of many wiki platforms)


pbworks is only one of many free wiki services offered on the internet. Those who teach using Moodle have the chance to use the wiki tool built right into the program. Wikis are an amazing way to keep track of student participation and learning during a project. Sandra Porter’s post on her blog Discovering Biology in a DIGITAL WORLD highlights the ways she uses wikis in her bioinformatics class: she posts her syllabus, lab activities, assessment questions, and has pages for student notes. Since this is a collaborative resource, it satisfies NETS-T 1 (c) and NETS-T 5 (a). Specifically, wikis provide an excellent way for students to share their creative process and notes, and sharing can also be done between local teachers or those from around the world to further help their students.


Poll Everywhere


I have used this online polling service before to assess my students’ perception of a topic before getting into it. With this tool, students are able to respond to prompts in real time via texting. A poll would be a good addition to any learning project for assessing student knowledge before, during, and after the project. The relevant NETS for this tool are: NETS-T 2 (a), since the site uses cellphones, a new digital resource, to promote learning. Also, NETS-T 3 (d) is reached by using a current digital resource to gather data from the students, helping to evaluate their learning needs.


Case Collection –  National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science at the University at Buffalo


Case study use in science education can help teachers convey scientific content as students develop their critical thinking skills. The projects included in this page involve contemporary issues that anyone can find in the news. The website includes basic information about each project (abstract, keywords, objectives), teaching notes, and the case study itself in a pdf file that is so thorough it could go straight from the website into the classroom. This perfectly exemplifies NETS-T 1 (b), as the case studies are from real world issues, and students can use them to develop their problem solving skills and critical thinking. Case studies are also related to NETS-T 2 (b), as the case studies could be chosen by each student, and studied and answered at their own pace.


Microbe World Video


These video podcasts by the American Society for Microbiology highlight the most interesting aspects of Microbiology and the most critical medical news- such as flu outbreaks, the use of microorganisms to make biofuels, vaccine efficacy, etc. These would be great introductions to learning projects. The podcasts here fit with NETS-T 3 (c) by properly communicating important information to the students on the processes involved with Microbiology, but also on career information and the tools of the trade. NETS-T 5 (c) is also covered since the collection of videos covers current practices in the field.


Internet for Microbiology


This is an amazing guide that teaches students to use the internet like a Microbiologist- it talks to them about the process of academic research, finding sources, evaluating them, publishing, communication, etc. and how to use current digital resources to accomplish this. It comes with a huge list of all kinds of resources. I would direct my students here when it’s time for them to do a research project so that they know how to find and correctly use sources. This site is another good example of NETS-T 1 (b), since it has students working as a real microbiologist would in their career. The guide also does a good job of covering NETS-T 4 (a), by pointing out how to best evaluate the literature, and how to present it in a legal and ethical manner


AMSER – Applied Math and Science Education Repository


This is a repository  that’s extremely relevant to me, since it specifically collects community college-level resources. There is a huge variety of learning activities that could be incorporated to various stages of Biology projects. For example, AMSER linked me to this interactive lesson on aseptic technique, which would be an engaging introduction to lab work. AMSER is a good example of NETS-T 5 (c), because it helps me, the teacher, expand on my knowledge of adequate activities for a community college setting. It is also a good one for NETS-T 2 (a), because they are digital tools – many of them interactive- that can be adapted for my own classes.




Mindmeister is a mindmapping online tool that’s extremely easy to use. It is great for project-based learning because it can help students visualize and structure their ideas creatively, either individually or collaboratively. This tool is a great example of the NETS-T 1 (a) and (c) in action, because this site allows students to model their creativity in a visual way, as well as collaborate with their peers in the process. The tool also represents the NETS-2 (a) since it can be adapted for several learning purposes, while once again promoting self and collaborative creativity.


FreeBIEs – Project Based Learning for the 21st Century


This resource is more geared towards teachers preparing for project-based learning in their classrooms. It includes guides that help us organize the project, plan it on a calendar, prepare a rubric, keep track of project management, etc. FreeBIEs is relevant for NETS-T 3 (a) as it demonstrates a knowledge of technology on the part of the teacher. By using new technology resources, a teacher can act as a leader for students using digital tools in their learning; so these tools are also relevant to NETS-T 5 (b).




I am loving this resource. They include user-uploaded rubrics for all sorts of Biology projects, sorted by grade level. One of the best rubrics I found in iRubric is this Lab Report Assessment which guides students into crafting a well-constructed scientific report. Scientific communication is a huge component of Biology projects. This resource covers all of NETS-T 2. Through this tool you can design your own digital resources for students, and customize them for each group. You can make a more custom and personalized rubric to fit with more student types as it makes it easier to grade and keep track of the students progress. And since the site is great for sharing, collaborating, and pooling data, it can be better used to analyze teaching and learning trends. In addition, as this allows the teacher to contribute their lessons for sharing, it is also a good example of NETS-T 5 (d).


HHMI – Virtual Labs


These virtual labs could become integral to my Biology projects. Some of them are introductions to topics, and in extreme circumstances some could be used as substitutes for wet labs. Although these exercises are meant for individual students, they can be easily adapted for collaborative efforts. This is another good example for NETS-T 1 (b), and (c), as it has exercises that challenge student problem-solving abilities individually or in groups. These virtual labs can be adapted for different classes, and promote creativity through interactive resources, making them a good example of NETS-T 2 (a).


About Lily F.M.

Graduate student trying to learn as much as I can!

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