As a teacher, it can sometimes be hard to ensure that every student grasps the content of your lessons at the same pace – after all, every person has their own strengths and weaknesses, and as we move forward into an ever-changing labor market it is becoming clearer that the old “one size fits all” approach will not prepare students to handle real life.
Thankfully, more and more schools are leaning towards a different approach: PBL, or Project-Based Learning. PBL takes the weight off teachers’ shoulders by removing the need to create a homogenous classroom of students, and it also removes the stress off students who are pressured to not fail and to compete with their peers, rather than themselves. With PBL, students get accustomed to learning from their mistakes, as well as becoming more independent.
"Like all teaching methods, it’s not standalone. It can be added to the teaching you are already doing in your classroom. PBL allows for more real world application and in-depth understanding of the concepts your students need to understand"(Why Project Based Learning).
So, how does it work? To help answer that question, we’ve gathered info from several articles: What is PBL? by Buck Institute for Education, “Why Project Based Learning Should Rule YOUR School”? by April Smith, and “Seven Essential for Project-Based Learning”? by John Larmer & John R. Mergendoller to create some general tips to get you started:
1) A Need to Know
The first step is to explain the WHY of the project. It is essential to generate interest from your students so that they stay engaged. After all, why would they work hard on something they don't care about? This way, students will also be more receptive to teacher criticism as they will view them as someone who wants to help rather than a tyrant who blindly assigns tasks.
2) Driving Question
Second step is to pose a question they will need to answer. This is the time to make sure each student understands the end goal of all their work and how it ultimately connects to it. This is crucial because without it, your students might experience confusion and disengagement along the way.
3) Research & Plan
Next, have your students engage in an extensive and rigorous process of asking questions, using resources, and developing answers. You can start by asking a couple of key questions to help them get started but the idea is to let your students take control of the situation.
4) Student’s Voice & Choice
Have students make decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create. This way they will feel get a sense of responsibility to hold up the standards that they set for themselves
5) Critique & Revision
Students give, receive and use feedback to improve their process and products. Again, this helps emphasize the importance of learning from one’s mistakes, which they will eventually need to do as adults.
Students make their work public by explaining, displaying, and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom. This is where most of the learning and engagement happens for the students, as the best way to learn is to teach.
While lectures still play a crucial role in the classroom, grading systems are being challenged every day, as people are complaining about schools not preparing them for adulthood. With PBL, students can start engaging with a more realistic representation of day-to-day activities in the workplace and gain the confidence and skills necessary to thrive in the outside world.
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