Project Based Learning

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What is Project Based Learning (PBL)?

Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. In Gold Standard PBL, Essential Project Design Elements include:
  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills - The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.
  • Challenging Problem or Question- The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  • Sustained Inquiry- Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  • Authenticity- The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
  • Student Voice & Choice- Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  • Reflection- Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
  • Critique & Revision- Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
  • Public Product- Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.

PBL Helps Students Develop Skills for Living in a Knowledge-Based, Highly Technological Society

The old-school model of passively learning facts and reciting them out of context is no longer sufficient to prepare students to survive in today's world. Solving highly complex problems requires that students have both fundamental skills (reading, writing, and math) and 21st century skills (teamwork, problem solving, research gathering, time management, information synthesizing, utilizing high tech tools). With this combination of skills, students become directors and managers of their learning process, guided and mentored by a skilled teacher.   These 21st century skills include
  • personal and social responsibility
  • planning, critical thinking, reasoning, and creativity
  • strong communication skills, both for interpersonal and presentation needs
  • cross-cultural understanding
  • visualizing and decision making
  • knowing how and when to use technology and choosing the most appropriate tool for the task
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PBL and Technology Use Bring a New Relevance to the Learning at Hand

By bringing real-life context and technology to the curriculum through a PBL approach, students are encouraged to become independent workers, critical thinkers, and lifelong learners. Teachers can communicate with administrators, exchange ideas with other teachers and subject-area experts, and communicate with parents, all the while breaking down invisible barriers such as isolation of the classroom, fear of embarking on an unfamiliar process, and lack of assurances of success. PBL is not just a way of learning; it's a way of working together. If students learn to take responsibility for their own learning, they will form the basis for the way they will work with others in their adult lives.

PBL Lends Itself to Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessment and evaluation allow us to systematically document a child's progress and development. PBL encourages this by doing the following:  
  • It lets the teacher have multiple assessment opportunities.
  • It allows a child to demonstrate his or her capabilities while working independently.
  • It shows the child's ability to apply desired skills such as doing research.
  • It develops the child's ability to work with his or her peers, building teamwork and group skills.
  • It allows the teacher to learn more about the child as a person.
  • It helps the teacher communicate in progressive and meaningful ways with the child or a group of children on a range of issues.
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