According to Buck Institute for Education (2012), “Project Based Learning is an instructional approach built upon authentic learning activities that engage student interest and motivation. These activities are designed to answer a question or solve a problem and generally reflect the types of learning and work people do in the everyday world outside the classroom.” Teachers engaging students in the Project Based Learning model are utilizing interdisciplinary 21st century real-life skills to prepare students for jobs after finishing their formal education. Project Based Learning teaches students to seek answers to questions and encourages life-long learning. Project Based Learning (PBL) transforms the roles of the students and the role of the teacher.
Here are some wonderful examples of PBL and this transformation:
More Fun Than a Barrel of...Worms?! by Diane Curtis @ Edutopia http://www.edutopia.org/more-fun-barrel-worms
Geometry Students Angle into Architecture Through Project Learning by Sara Armstrong @ Edutopia http://www.edutopia.org/geometry-real-world-students-architects
March of the Monarchs: Students Follow the Butterflies' Migration by Diane Curtis @ Edutopia
As noticed in the examples, the teacher’s role is to gather students’ background knowledge and present the Big Idea (Johnson, 2012, p. 8)or broad topic that would be of importance and interest to the students. The teacher is like a facilitator. Peer teams or groups might be formed to work together. Guiding Questions, Activities (Johnson, 2012, p. 8), tools, games, simulations, and Guiding Resources (Johnson, 2012, p. 8) are provided for students so that they can solve the Essential Question (Johnson, 2012, p. 8) that they have formulated on the topic and meet the curriculum and standards that are required. Ensuring that the needs of all children are met is important. Like a manager, the teacher assists in the creation or creates the time management needed for the projects. Students' progress is monitored. Feedback, guidance or suggestions are given. Rubrics for Assessment (Johnson, 2012, p. 8) are created either by the teacher or with assistance with the students.
The students’ roles in the PBL examples are extremely active and hands-on. Their job is to solve the problems involving the Essential Question that was elicited. After participating in activities and explorations that the teacher or students have chosen, students develop their Solutions (Johnson, 2012, p. 8) to the Essential Question. These Solutions or Actions (Johnson, 2012, p. 8) are shared with peers, tested or fine-tuned, implemented, and then presented to their class, school, and/or community. Findings are usually Published (Johnson, 2012, p. 8) in some manner whether through sample observations or multi-media sources. The students’ final job is to Reflect (Johnson, 2012, p. 8) on what was learned or accomplished.
Student engagement is a definite plus for PBL. Parents love the excitement that they see from their children/teens. Ingo Schiller, a parent of two Newsome Park students stated, “There’s actually a visible hunger to learn” (Curtis, 2001). Students are enthusiastic and search for knowledge. In the video Journey North: Children Practice Real Science by Monitoring Butterflies (Curtis, 2002), Frances Koontz, the teacher, mentioned that students take ownership of their work. They act like scientists and interact with real scientists. Just by using this model, Frances was able to cover language arts, math, science and social requirements.
Project Based Learning implements real life application to real life problems/challenges. Good work habits, communication skills, peer collaboration, strategy building, creative thinking, and use of 21st Century tools and resources prepare students for today’s world and their futures.
Armstrong, S. (2002). Geometry students angle into architecture through project learning [article]. Retrieved on June 30, 2012 from http://www.edutopia.org/geometry-real-world-students- architects
Buck Institute for Education (2012). What is project-based learning? [article] retrieved on June 30, 2012 from http://pbl-online.org/About/whatisPBL.htm
Curtis, D. (2002). Journey north: Children practice real science by monitoring monarchs. [Video file] Retrieved June 30, 2012, from http://www.edutopia.org/journey-north-butterfly-migration-project-video
Curtis, D. (2002). March of the monarchs: Students follow the butterflies’ migration [article]. Retrieved on June 30, 2012 from http://www.edutopia.org/march-monarchs
Curtis, D. (2001). More fun than a barrel of . . . worms?! [article]. Retrieved on June 28, 2012 from http://www.edutopia.org/more-fun-barrel-worms
Johnson, L. F.; Smith, R. S.; Smythe, J. T.; Varon, R. K. (2009). Challenge-based learning: An approach for our time. Austin, TX: The News Media Consortium. Retrieved on June 30, 2012 from http://www.nmc.org/pdf/Challenge-Based-Learning.pdf