T2 - Hurricane Season-Prepare!
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Professional Information Center | Student Investigation Center | Communication Center
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Investigation/ Exploration
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Resolution/ Refinement
Knowledge and Skills
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The goals of Resolution/Refinement are to analyze options and arrive at an agreed-upon solution (action or decision), and then to communicate that solution to the appropriate audience in an authentic manner. The emphasis during this phase should be, first, on making a decision, and second, on designing and developing a product or performance that will best communicate the decision.

During this phase of PBL you lead your students to consider solution options that meet the conditions as set in the problem statement. It will become clear that there is no one "right" solution, though some solutions may be better than others given the goals and constraints of the situation. It also will become clear that solutions reflect the values of those making the recommendations. A tolerance for ambiguity and multiple solutions is an important attribute to develop during this phase.

In Hurricane Season - Prepare! you will introduce a Kicker soon after students have finalized their plan and wrapped up their other tasks. This Kicker will necessitate students' using their plan and having to make a major evacuation decision as a powerful hurricane changes course and heads toward the South Carolina/North Carolina coast. So, during the first part of this phase concentrate on product development, then introduce the Kicker and guide students through the decision-making process.


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As students begin thinking about their final presentation in this Resolution phase, you can introduce them to the GOSM strategy (or trigger its use if they are already familiar with the strategy). This strategy, and other similar strategies, prompts the use of important considerations in effective presentations. Refer to the paper on Universal Design for Learning PDF for tips on how to scaffold the use of learning strategies with your students.



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Product Development

Along with decision-making, product development is the focus of Resolution/Refinement. In Hurricane Season - Prepare! there are several products to develop and a number of product options. There will be flow charts, maps of evacuation routes and emergency shelter locations, written documents and brochures, photo collages, etc.

Then there will be a variety of "publications" or presentations of products. You could have students "publish" their Emergency Management Plan on a Web site; you could have them make a presentation at "Poseidon Elementary School," as called for in Task #4 (but do it in reality at your school). You can direct these products, if you like, by using a Pointer (see explanation in Investigation section), perhaps a "phone call" from the principal of Poseidon Elementary.

Keep in mind that product development and presentation offer good opportunities for multiple means of representation and expression, important principles of Universal Design for Learning PDF.


October 5 (Today)

This news just in from National Hurricane Center in Miami: Tropical storm Harriet first spotted east of the Windward Islands was today upgraded to a hurricane as it moved through the islands with 80 mph hurricane force winds.

You note this but are not unduly alarmed. Harriet is moving west and does not appear to pose any threat to the North Carolina coast.

October 5-8

You are keeping your eye on Harriet as it moves westward over the southern Caribbean Sea. Still, there seems no cause for concern.

October 9

Harriet is slowly turning north-northeast. It has been upgraded to a Category 3 storm with a wind speed of 120 mph - and now it's got your attention. You decide you'd better begin to monitor more closely.

You look at a calendar of upcoming events, and you gather data on current seasonal conditions - and you groan. If Harriet continues to turn north, it could be serious. You list the considerations:

  • Suffolk County has a long coastline and a lot of beachfront property. Suffolk beaches are its greatest attraction.
  • The Carolina Sailing Regatta is scheduled for the week-end of October 16-17. Boats will begin to arrive on the 15th, and there will be a lot of them. This is a popular regatta with sailors from all over the southeast, and it is popular with the local business community as well. Hotels and motels are sold out, shops are stocked, and restaurants are fully staffed even though it is technically off-season.
  • It is the fall of the year when tides are normally high, but the highest lunar tide, called a "marsh hen tide" by local hunters, is coming up on the 15th.
  • You realize that if Suffolk County is hit directly, the sea could rise as much as 18 feet above its normal level.

You start tracking the storm, and you notify your Control Team.

Harriet Track PDF

As Harriet approaches you begin to consider evacuation. (Thank goodness you have developed an evacuation plan.) Though ultimately it will be your decision, you are already getting memos from people with very different perspectives on the need to evacuate.

With this Kicker, your students will have to determine the forward speed of the hurricane, track its course, and predict whether it will come ashore, and if so, where and when. As the hurricane gets nearer, they must make the crucial decision about whether to evacuate, and if so, when. A good resource to use at this point is the following taped interview with the Emergency Management Director of Carteret County:

Interview: Mike Addertion QuickTime

As this scenario unfolds, deliver the following letters so that students consider varying viewpoints about evacuation orders. Develop other memos, phone calls, emails, etc., if you like, to illustrate other concerns.

Memo from Director of Tourist Bureau PDF

Memo from Chief of Police PDF


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Skillful decision-making is needed during this phase of PBL, and the use of visual organizers can be helpful in this process. An especially useful graphic is the decision matrix Word, which assists users in weighing alternatives against selection criteria. The decision matrix is also effective to use later as part of the decision justification.

Value Clarification

Values can figure prominently into decision-making. A graphic that assists users in identifying the values impacting a decision, as well as their relative strengths, is the force field analysis Word.


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Embedded Instruction

There will be numerous opportunities for "just in time" teaching during the Resolution phase. Students will need to develop skills in weather prediction, decision-making, effective communication, etc., and you will need to act as a "coach" to assist them.

Jigsaw PDF

Again, you may find the jigsaw useful as a teaming structure. A description of the jigsaw is in the Professional Information Center.

Inquiry PDF

Inquiry continues to be essential as you guide students through the process of product development and decision-making. You will find a brief paper on metacognitive inquiry in the Professional Information Center.

Questions you might ask:

  • Who should be considered as we finalize our plan?
  • What is the goal of the plan?
  • How does our understanding of prediction and probability help us in formulating our plan?
  • How will we communicate our plan?
  • What is the goal of our presentation(s)?
  • How can we most effectively present our information?
  • What do we have to consider in making our evacuation decision?
  • What is most important to consider?
  • Who is impacted by our decision?
  • What ethical issues are involved?
  • How will we justify our decision?


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The Problem Log and Product/Performance Rubrics will continue to be used as assessments during the Resolution phase. You will want to develop additional product rubrics, but you may find our Presentation Rubric PDF especially useful during this PBL phase. Students can access blank Problem Logs Word in the Student Investigation Center.


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Go to the Debriefing HTML phase to "step out" of the scenario and reflect on your PBL experience.


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Before proceeding, please take a moment to share your experiences HTML with us!

Hurricane Isabel - NOAA
Photo courtesy of NASA

Copyright © 2004 Elon University.