My school does not make a computer and/or a mobile device available for every student. Can I still use Challenge Based Learning?

Answer: Yes. Build extra time into your schedule to allow students to access school computers during class, especially during the research phase and while students create their presentations. Consider allowing students to use their personal technology.

I would like to try Challenge Based Learning, but my schedule is very tight. Can I fit this into a week's worth of classes?

Answer: Yes. A challenge can be completed in as much or as little time as you would like. You will still choose the big idea, the essential question, and the challenge. Also, make sure that the challenge you design for your students is one they can address in the amount of available time. You also need to streamline certain stages of the process. For example, while students still work in groups to develop guiding questions, do research, propose solutions, and create a final product, the implementation of the challenge can be limited to individual students working on their own. But remember, when students engage in this type of learning, they don't want to stop working on their projects when the school day is over. Explore ways in which you can help your students continue working beyond the school day.

Do I need to collaborate with other teachers at my school, or can I "go it alone"?

Answer: Collaboration with other teachers is a best practice for Challenge Based Learning. It helps ensure that the content is multidisciplinary and it allows for students to immerse themselves in content and draw connections between subjects. However, a single teacher and a single class can successfully complete a challenge. You can also collaborate virtually with teachers in other schools in your community or beyond.

I'm concerned about whether my students will master the material they need to know. They have statewide tests coming up. How can I be sure they will learn what they need through Challenge Based Learning?

Answer: As the teachers in the pilots found, the Challenge Based Learning process lends itself to content mastery. By the end of the pilot, nearly every teacher observed that students had mastered the content well beyond expectations. Many felt that the depth of student learning was remarkable, in fact, much greater than anticipated. Students engaged with the content, worked harder than expected, and demonstrated good critical thinking and collaboration skills. Your task as a teacher is to facilitate this by starting with standards-based content and connecting it to 21st century content and skills throughout the process. Build basic skill practice into the activities and students will see a purpose for gaining the skills.

Some of my students don't even want to be in school. How can I get them to feel engaged in this?

Answer: The pilot research study found that even students who tended to disengage from school were excited and interested in Challenge Based Learning. Because it connects schoolwork with real life, and because it is structured so differently from what many students are used to, Challenge Based Learning is engaging, even for at-risk students. Your task as a teacher is to present the process and especially the challenge in a real-world context and in an involving and motivating way.

I have students who can't read. How can they do research?

Answer: You can use cooperative and multigrade groupings in which students can work with each other to find and discuss research. Bring experts to your classroom so students can listen. Take advantage of the many video resources that exist on the web so students can watch, listen, and learn. Enable the text-to-speech feature of the Mac OS.