More resources for Project-Based Learning

Today’s guest blogger is Megan Smith, social studies teacher at Downingtown High School East.
 

I attended a session at the ISTE Conference on Project Based Learning. I was excited to go to this session because I know that this is a major trend in the education world and I think it can also fit in well with a blended environment.

The presenters shared three useful websites:

  • Buck Institute for Education – gathers and shares project based learning activities.
  • pblu.org – will soon feature online courses to help teachers implement project based learning.
  • pblworld.org – gives information about a project based learning conference and useful resources

The presenters do not suggest completely overhauling your curriculum to feature project based learning. Rather, start with one project and go from there. A teacher that I met at a different session made her last marking period feature project based learning.  She said it was a nice switch at the end of the year and will now give her the summer to work on improving and adapting what she had created and expanding project based learning further in her classroom.

There are 8 essential elements of project based learning

  • Identify what the students need to know
    • What are the overarching themes that you want them to be able to learn?
  • Pose a challenging problem or question
    • It is best to make this a connection to the real world so that the students become owners of the information they learn
  • Sustained inquiry
    • Teach them to ask questions
    • When they get answers, this will lead them to new questions
    • Give them resources to help them answer and ask questions
  • Authenticity
    • Make school become the real world
  • Student voice/choice
    • Allow students to lead their own way within the project and give them the tools they need to explore
    • This gives them ownership and makes it more likely for them to be actively engaged in learning
  • Reflection
    • Probably one of the most challenging and useful parts of project based learning
    • Most people really do not enjoy self-reflection, but it helps us to see where we were successful and where we still need improvement or can make progress
  • Critique and revision
    • If possible have experts in the field observe their projects and give them critiques.
    • Students can then make revisions based on the critiques
  • Public audience
    • When possible, have students present, even if it is just to their peers.
    • Presenting allows that ownership that the students have developed to come alive

As the presenters went along, they gave examples from schools around the country, including our very own Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center! They featured the art and identify project that was done last year.

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