Building Outside the Blocks™ (BOB) is an approach that uses personalizing projects to help students build skill, autonomy, community and connection in minimal class time.
BOB projects, referred to as BOBs, focus on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, and self-management. The teacher provides the outline that addresses several curriculum expectations and the students use and build knowledge and skills to complete it.
BOBs are teacher-provided, student-driven assignments. Like all Project Based Learning (PBL), BOBs are framed by a meaningful task or question to explore. They are catalyst for a personalized inquiry that are sometimes also an inquiry into the self. The projects help to meet a bevy of curriculum expectations that build learning skills in meaningful authentic contexts and speaks to students’ interests and lives.
BOBs are ways for learners to bring a piece of themselves to a school assignment by allowing them to have a say in what they produce as well as when they share it with the class. The teacher determines the overall timeline of the assignment including presentation dates. From there, the rest is up to the students.
Students present to and hear feedback from their class. The classroom is an active learning community of "coaches” who articulate the success criteria through formative feedback in the form of questions, comments, and critiques celebrating accomplishments and encouraging next steps. The teacher guides and is a creative collaborator in the process as well as a facilitator of the presentation experience. Along with a rubric, formative feedback is given in writing to clarify next steps.
Unlike traditional Project Based Learning scenarios, BOBs mostly take place at home. While some instruction and lead time may be required, BOB projects take little class time. It takes around 5 minutes for each BOB project presentation, yet students spend hours preparing on their own self- directed time. With no more than 3 presenters on a given day, this high yielding strategy is especially useful for teachers trying to do more with less class time.