After reading a few examples of Project Based Learning (see references below), there were several common traits I noticed between them.
1. Technology: In each example, students had access to technology. It was an essential tool that empowered the students to explore information and collaborate with one another on projects. At Newsome Park Elementary they talk about how students use computers to research and create: “During Phase 2, students do field work, meet with experts, gather information from the Internet and other sources, and then compile the information in a variety of forms, from written and picture portfolios to Web pages and computer-generated brochures. ”
2. Inquiry: Instead of the teacher standing in the front of the room teaching, students identify questions and go through the process of learning by finding the answers. Students then become responsible for their own learning and are guided by engaging and essential questions. I saw the word “discovery” used several times to describe students uncovering new information. PBL fosters an environment that ignites students natural curiosity. This motivates them to learn as they want to find answers to their questions.
3. Real World Application: each article talked about the importance of the students making real-world connections to what they are learning. When students understand why information has personal meaning to them and their life, they are more engaged and motivated to learn.
The role of the teacher changes from sage on the stage to guide on the side. Teachers engaged in PBL help to facilitate the learning process and ensure students have access to the tools and resources they need to be successful. This type of environment also allows the teacher to move around the room and informally assess groups and individual students by checking for understanding.
The role of the student changes as they take and ACTIVE role in their learning. They now must find answers to questions and work with one another to tackle complex tasks.
PBL creates a more engaging environment because students are active and constantly working with one another. They are more engaged because they are able to connect what they are learning with the real world. They are excited because they are given the freedom to learn in a variety of ways and show their learning through meaningful projects they share not just with their class, but with their community.
Armstrong, S. (2002, February 11). Geometry Students Angle into Architecture Through Project Learning. Edutopia. K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies that Work. Edutopia. Retrieved January 27, 2013, from http://www.edutopia.org/geometry-real-world-students-architects
Curtis, D. (2001, October 1). March of the Monarchs: Students Follow the Butterflies’ Migration. Edutopia. K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies that Work. Edutopia. Retrieved January 27, 2013, from http://www.edutopia.org/march-monarchs
Curtis, D. (2002, June 6). More Fun than a Barrel of…Worms . Edutopia. K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies that Work. Edutopia. Retrieved January 27, 2013, from http://www.edutopia.org/more-fun-barrel-worms