In order to understand what NextGenPBL is doing, it is important to understand what it is and what its goals are. NextGenPBL stands for Next Generation Project-Based Learning. It is a fee-for-service initiative created by CREATE for STEM to support teachers and school districts as they begin to implement NGSS aligned, curriculum-based content. NextGenPBL is different from most traditional teacher support in that it is both extensive and intensive. It is extensive in that NextGenPBL represents over 60 hours of support over an entire year and is intensive in that it starts with a three-day workshop to introduce its three-dimensional project-based learning. The goal of NextGenPBL is to provide research-based curriculum that brings NGSS alive.
Under the leadership of the Director of Professional Learning at CREATE for STEM, Angela Kolonich, and co-leaders, Dr. Christopher Reimann and Sue Carpenter, NextGenPBL began with the development of its first program, Interactions. On March 13, 2018, Interactions Unit 1 was awarded the NGSS Design Badge and was the first to receive their “E” rating as a high-quality example of curriculum designed for NGSS. Being awarded the badge was very appreciated by the NextGenPBL team because it meant that someone was holding them to a higher standard and giving them feedback on their work. In its second year, NextGenPBL enjoyed unanticipated rapid-growth in the interest of its work and began to move towards providing materials to teachers at the K5 grade range in order to support them at every level. Currently, NextGenPBL is working with local school districts around Michigan like the Detroit Public Schools Community District, the Macomb Intermediate School District, and the Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District, as well as districts in California like the San Bernardino School District. Along with that, NextGenPBL is working with the CREATE for STEM communications team to create materials that are in a more accessible and user-friendly form for the districts. This would allow schools without access to computer labs the opportunity to incorporate the NextGenPBL curriculum into their teaching. Beginning in the summer of 2019, NextGenPBL plans to continue its work in Los Angeles, California with the Los Angeles Unified School District to train their ninth grade teachers. With the rapid growth and the challenges that come with it, NextGenPBL is doing its best to work with researchers on different projects and is looking forward to developing more capacity for it’s growing development.