Reading about PBL projects in three diverse schools each with successful outcomes inspires me to become more skilled at creating and implementing PBL in my school. In each of the case studies the school was addressing the needs of learners with varying learning styles including cultural and socio-economic differences or differences in populations. All three projects were designed using constructivist teaching; by posing a big question or problem, each had a schedule to structure the activity and the assessment of outcome was varied to allow for multiple learning styles of students.
The student was the active participant and the teacher was facilitator in each project. This fact was a key element to increased engagement and learning. Full participation in the process of the project gave meaning to the activity and created a higher level of responsibility on the part of the students. I have seen this in my classes; when students understand that the teacher if placing responsibility and trust on them, students tend to rise to the occasion. This gives them self-esteem and invests them in the learning process.
Increased engagement acquisition/transfer
Students were engaged in each project because they understood the relevance and significance of each project. They learned skills and concepts that are transferable through actually applying them and having to explain them to peers.
In our school a math teacher did a similar Wall Street project teaching math skills through stock movements. The students watched their basket of stocks and plotted the movements making predictions. They went from bored to engaged when they understood the context and meaning of numbers applied to something that had meaning to them; making money!
The children tracking Monarch butterflies acquired significant skills and knowledge and felt connected to a beautiful creature that is intrinsically engaging.
These three project examples make a case for applying Project-based learning on a wider scale.
“More Fun Than a Barrel of . . . Worms?!” – Diane Curtis, Edutopia http://www.edutopia.org/more-fun-barrel-worms
“Geometry Students Angle into Architecture Through Project Learning” – Sara Armstrong, Edutopia http://www.edutopia.org/geometry-real-world-students-architects
“March of the Monarchs: Students Follow the Butterflies’ Migration” - Diane Curtis, Edutopia http://www.edutopia.org/march-monarchs