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Mike Kaechele and Dr. Matinga Ragatz are the co-authors of a newly released book, Pulse of PBL: Cultivating Equity Through Social Emotional Learning. Full Disclosure: I am a co-owner of Blend Education, the publisher of their book. It has been an incredible opportunity to witness their journey from the initial idea through publication.

In this episode, they talk about their own PBL journeys as educators and offer practical insights for how you can use PBL in your classroom.


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About Mike Kaechele

Mike is a teacher who leads Project Based Learning and Social and Emotional Learning workshops around the country helping educators make the shift to student-centered inquiry. He earned national exposure as an avid blogger and has been featured in Edutopia, PBLWorks, Edweek, New Tech Network, WeGrowTeachers, and TeachThought. He is National Faculty Emeritus with PBLWorks (Buck Institute of Education).

During his 20 year career, he has integrated projects across all four core content areas and electives in both middle and high school settings. While living abroad, Mike gained international experience teaching in China. Mike was a founding teacher at Kent Innovation High School, a nationally recognized PBL school of the New Tech Network. His passion is inspiring educators to design SEL infused PBL curriculum for all content areas and age levels. Mike is convinced that we don’t need to prepare students for “someday,” but that they should take on meaningful work right now!


About Matinga E. Ragatz, Ph.D

Matinga Ragatz is a multiple-award winning educator, author, keynote speaker, and consultant. As an innovative teacher, she redefined learning and developed a trusted voice striving to revolutionize the way children learn and the way teachers teach. Among many accolades, she served as Michigan Teacher of the Year and in 2017 was inducted in the National Teacher Hall of Fame. She holds a PhD in Education with a specialty in Learning, Instruction, and Innovation and is National Faculty at PBLWorks (Buck Institute of Education).

Matinga’s international background and her own challenging learning experiences inspire a unique perspective on the cultivation of students’ talents and abilities. In 2017, she opened a PBL food science school in Tanzania focusing on children of extreme poverty and their learning needs. In 2020, she founded a scholarship  and advocacy program for school children to support parents financially affected by COVID-19 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Matinga inspires school leaders to create real-world engagement within their schools utilizing the innovative strategies that she has developed and successfully implemented over 20 years.  She believes that accessible and effective education is the keystone of economic development and imperative in the geopolitical discourse. To this end, she has carried this message to educators in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. She is currently an NPR Michigan Radio education commentator where she speaks about education issues throughout the state of Michigan.


Pulse of PBL Book CoverAbout the Pulse of PBL

In a post-Covid landscape, teachers need tools to integrate Social and Emotional Learning into the daily fabric of their classrooms without losing time for academic content. If you don’t plan to teach SEL skills upfront, you will lose academic time as students struggle throughout the year. Explicitly teaching Transformative SEL competencies is an unparalleled opportunity to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environment for ALL learners. PBL generates organic situations to intentionally foster the SEL competencies daily. The Pulse of PBL offers tried and true strategies on how each of the five SEL competencies can be seamlessly taught, practiced, and assessed inside the PBL framework. Each chapter of The Pulse of PBL will demonstrate, competency by competency, how SEL can be naturally embedded into PBL. Specific examples, protocols, and stories from both elementary and secondary classrooms around the U.S. illustrate how PBL and SEL are a powerful combination. Transformative SEL changes the way students see themselves as learners, becoming active participants in their communities and the world!

How do I leverage student social and cultural identities to develop their Self-Awareness?
How do I build students’ ability to Self-Manage their time, task, and teams?
How do I create student experiences that heighten empathy to sharpen their Social Awareness?
How do I strengthen students’ capacity for collaboration and communication to forge productive Relationship Skills?
How do I present authentic opportunities for Responsible Decision-Making in projects to affect their communities and their lives?
How do I assess the SEL competencies to ensure ALL students apply their skills in meaningful learning?

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John Spencer

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.More about me


  • Jeannine Koeneke says:

    Hello! I’m thrilled I found your resources! I have been asked to start a PBL electives program in my middle school and more than ever I could ruin everything on day 1 of I don’t have my s#*t in order!

    Many of your resources will help me a ton but the resources that I am desperately in need of is how to use or incorporate SEL, rules, policies, routines, etc. from day 1. For example-Day 1 what do I need to be doing to create an atmosphere of structure, safety, inclusiveness, and the permission to tap into their creative intelligence?

    Thank you thank you!!

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