Teaching with Project-Based Learning (PBL)

Introduction

Project-based learning (PBL) is the educational approach of having students create a product and/or project related to a topic. With project-based learning, students will identify a real-world problem and develop its solution. There are many benefits to project-based learning, including allowing students to develop skills they can apply to real-life problems, gain a deeper understanding of concepts, and improve their communication skills. When implementing project-based learning, educators will design a plan for a project (possibly by forming an engaging question) and then act as facilitators as students work together to create a project. Teaching with project-based learning is important because this type of learning helps students stay engaged with a topic and allows them to develop a variety of skills and collaborate with their peers!

Resources

There are a multitude of resources available online for teaching with project-based learning. The following materials will give you everything you need to implement this teaching strategy into your classroom.

Lesson Plans

  1. Resources and Tools for PBL Start to Finish: edutopia has put together some resources and tools that educators from Manor New Technology High School in Manor, Texas have provided for project-based learning. In this article, there are documents to help get educators started, workshops, additional PBL documents from Manor New Tech High School, additional resources on the web, and more! For educators who are looking for sample project-based learning documents and additional resources from other teachers, this article will be very helpful!
  2. Project-Based Learning Workshop Activities: edutopia also offers project-based learning activities that educators can adapt for their own workshops. This article suggests that students prepare for critical viewing of case study videos, watch case study videos, become experts of PBL, understand criteria for good projects, identify and ask good questions, explore examples of online collaboration in projects among schools, and participate in more related activities!
  3. How Does Project-Based Learning Work?: edutopia provides an article on how project-based learning works. This article walks educators through the steps of implementing project-based learning into their curriculums. These steps include starting with the essential question, designing a plan for the project, creating a schedule, monitoring the students and the progress of the project, assessing the outcome, and evaluating the experience. For educators who want a step-by-step guide on how to create a PBL lesson, this article will be very helpful!
  4. How to Create a Project Based Learning Lesson: Cult of Pedagogy provides information on how to create a project-based learning lesson. In this article, Jenny Pieratt gives a working definition of project-based learning and walks through the process of creating a project-based learning lesson using the “silent voices” project she collaborated on as an example. Pieratt explains how their team brainstormed authentic project ideas, planned with the end in mind, benchmarked the project, built project rubrics, planned for a formative assessment, created student-facing rubrics, and planned daily lessons using a project calendar.

Articles

  1. Project-Based Learning (PBL) | Edutopia: edutopia has published many articles related to project-based learning that educators can benefit from reading! Below are a few that will help educators understand how to get started with PBL and why it is so important!
    • Getting Started With Project-Based Learning (Hint: Don’t Go Crazy): edutopia provides an article that gives educators some tips on how to slowly implement project-based learning into their curriculums without getting overwhelmed. This article suggests educators renovate a project, narrow the scope of the project, plan the process early, gather feedback from other educators, remember the project is the “main course,” and commit to reflection.
    • Why Is Project-Based Learning Important?: edutopia offers an article on why project-based learning is important. This article discusses the merits of project-based learning in the classroom, including helping students develop skills for living in the 21st century, bringing real-life context to the learning process, and allowing for authentic assessment.
    • Boosting Student Engagement Through Project-Based Learning: edutopia provides an article on boosting student engagement through project-based learning. The article explains how new research shows the power of PBL and talks about redefining how students learn, student group work, and teachers as designers of their curriculums.
  1. Using Project-Based Learning in the Classroom: [email protected] has published an article on using project-based learning in the classroom for students with learning disabilities. This article discusses how PBL can increase student engagement, the many possibilities for teaching and assessing multiple skills, and the possibilities for differentiation of instruction and assessment. In addition, there is an example that gives a few ideas of projects and differentiation options at the bottom of the page along with supplemental PBL resources.
  2. A Guide To Using Project-Based Learning in the Classroom: True Education Partnerships has created a guide to using project-based learning in the classroom. This guide explains what project-based learning is, characteristics of PBL, PBL learning objectives, the difference between problem-based and project-based learning, both the benefits and challenges of PBL, examples of PBL in various disciplines, and ultimately how to implement PBL into the classroom.
  3. Project-Based Learning – Teaching Guide: The Center for Teaching & Learning at Boston University has created a project-based learning teaching guide. This guide includes an introduction and information on implementing project-based learning (defining the problem, generating ideas, prototyping solutions, testing). It also explains unstructured vs. structured projects and why students learn more from open-ended unstructured projects.
  4. How Can Project-Based Learning Prepare Students For The 21st Century?: Penn GSE News has published a brief article on how project-based learning can prepare students for the 21st century. This article explains what project-based learning is, what allows PBL to succeed in the classroom, and why PBL is having a moment.
  5. What You Should Know About Project-Based Learning: Education World offers an article on what people should know about project-based learning. This article discusses how project-based learning isn’t a new fad, improves student outcomes, prepares students for the real world, promotes critical thinking/memory/creativity, and is good for teachers, too. In addition, the article provides a brief explanation of how to put project-based learning to work in the classroom!
  6. What Is Project Based Learning? 10 Best PBL Ideas to Boost Outcomes: Prodigy provides an article explaining what project-based learning is and ten of the best PBL ideas to boost outcomes. This article discusses the project-based learning definition, some PBL examples, ten PBL ideas for the classroom, notable and effective PBL examples, and the pros and cons of PBL in the 21st century. The project-based learning ideas recommended include creating a play area, writing original math stories, creating favorite recipes, researching and displaying what happened to the dinosaurs, scripting part of a significant historical event, and more!

Informational Sites

  1. Project Based Learning – Planning & Teaching Strategies: Lumen Learning offers information on project-based learning. This article contains key points of PBL, a definition, a full text, and information on elements, examples, roles, and outcomes of PBL.

Conclusion

Teaching with project-based learning is important because it keeps students engaged with their learning and allows them to develop skills necessary for solving problems they may encounter in the real world. When beginning to use project-based learning, educators should be sure to plan shorter projects that aren’t too open-ended so students can get used to the process and experience some level of success. If educators start by setting students up with complex, broad projects that cause them to feel confused, out of their league, or unsuccessful, they will be less likely to be receptive to project-based learning in the future. In simple terms, start small and build up to the complex projects.

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