Chapter 7 of the Larmer, Mergendollar, and Boss text is titled “PBL in Informal Education and Summer Programs”. The authors define informal education settings as after-school programs, where supervised children alternate their time completing homework and participating in recreation until their parents get off work, pick them up, and take them home (p. 158).

On the other hand, most education professionals will be able to surmise that summer programs are, indeed, summer school. After a freshly completed school year, students who need extra instruction are given from three to four weeks of intensive, specific teaching in problem areas. The hope being that the additional, focused education in a smaller class environment will give the students a boost the following school year.

I think Chapter 7 makes valid points about PBL in an after-school program. Instructors are not encumbered by school calendars and curriculum; and grades, because they are nonexistent, do not inhibit students (Larmer, Mergendollar, & Boss, 2015, p. 158). In other words, it’s a pressure-free zone where kids can explore, take risks, and learn absent from much of the stimuli that trigger fears of failure. 

For summer school, PBL offers a new incentive for getting kids in the door, which is sometimes a challenge as no student wants to spend weeks away from family, friends, and the welcomed relaxation and recreation that come with the warmest months of the year (Larmer, Mergendollar, & Boss, 2015, p. 162). In addition, summer school’s shortened instructional window is not a hindrance to PBL; rather it’s the perfect window to introduce a project and allow students time to investigate, create, and show off their work (Larmer, Mergendollar, & Boss, 2015, p. 162).

I look forward to exploring the topics covered in Chapter 7 after our PBL classroom pilot is completed.

The work continues . . .


Larmer, J., Mergendoller, J. R., & Boss, S. (2015). Setting the standard for project based learning: A proven approach to rigorous classroom instruction. ASCD.

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Matthew Kitchens

Learning Technologies Coach at Burleson ISD
Matthew Kitchens
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Reflection: Chapter 7 – PBL in Informal Education and Summer Programs
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