What Can Teachers And Students Teach Us About Project Based-Learning?
Seven Essentials for Project-Based Learning
By: John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller
This article is one that describes what a "meaningful project" is compared to what we as students used to think a project was in our school days. It states a meaningful project fills two criteria: Students must perceive the project as a meaningful task, one that matters and it must fill an educational purpose. The Buck Institute for Education researched to find there are 7 essentials to this PBL.
1. A Need to Know: As students, we always ask "Why do I need to know this? Will I ever use this after I leave school?". It's a struggle that teachers face everyday. A need to know means giving the students an example of where the information they are learning. The example they give in this article is about bacteria and showing a video about a beach that is closed due to contaminated water. The teacher starts a discussion about the experiences the students might have had and how pollution impacts them. This is called an "Entry Event".
2. A Driving Question: A good driving question captures the heart of the project in clear, compelling language, which gives students a sense of purpose and challenge. The example in the article is "How can we reduce the number of days Foster's Beach is closed because of poor water quality?". This is the thesis statement to the project basically.
3. Student Voice and Choice: Giving the students the choice of product they provide is key to help the project feel meaningful. A teacher can limit how much choice the student has by giving them a list of options to choose from or they can give them free range. This gives them the freedom to take charge in their education and what resources they will use and the creativity to make the project their own.
4. 21st Century Skills: This means that the project should give students the chance to build on their 21st century skills, such as skills with technology.
5. Inquiry and Innovation: Have students create a list of questions to answer in their projects. This article says that students find projects more meaningful if they can conduct real inquiry and answer questions after following a trail from their beginning questions.
6. Feedback and Revision: Students critique each others work and improve on their weaker areas to become stronger learners. They also learn to reflect on themselves to become better people if they can learn to self-assess. This can make the outcome or product better than before.
7. A Publicly Presented Product: When students present their work to a real audience, they care more about its quality.
Project Based-Learning for Teachers
By: Tony Vincent
This video is a great commercial in my opinion. While we are assigned to watch it, I really don't know what to report on it. It gives you the basic knowledge and overview on PBL, but there is no in depth learning about it. If it's purpose was to get you interested in Tony Vincent's workshops then it does a fine job.
High School Teachers Meet The Challenges of PBL Implementation
This video is about Sammamish High School in Washington and their integration of PBL school-wide. The one area that they are struggling with is math. The teacher says that there is not a PBl unit for each of their usual units, but instead they looked the year over and incorporated PBL where it fit. This video is very inspiring, especially at the end when it gives the percentages that show the improvement in the students progresses over the year. While they say there is no way to prove that these improvements are solely based on the PBL, but none the less they are impressive. I personally can see where math would be the hardest subject to incorporate PBl into. It seems to be the one area in my opinion that is easier to lecture about and work individually on. While group work can be used, how exactly do you incorporate projects into math?! I guess this is what their problem is also.
What Movtivates Students Today
By: Suzanne Ball
This video was really cute! Suzanne Ball interviews several students about what motivates them. Some of her answers were praise from a teacher, the future, college, career and being able to participate in sports. For me this seems like the typical answers for students (having been around enough of them in my lifetime). She then re-interviews them about what rewards work with them. One child talks about a chart his teacher has and incorporates "classroom money" into the chart that allows them to purchase things at a Friday Store or they can save up their money to have a pizza party. Another child talks about how her teacher uses each day to provide something new like Music Monday, Wacky Fact Wednesday and so forth. Both students in this teachers class talked about how much they loved this reward. But their usual answers were candy, food, brownie points and food.
Two students solve the case of the watery ketchup by designing a new cap
By: LINDSEY FOAT, THE HALE CENTER FOR JOURNALISM AT KCPT
This video is proof about PBl and what it can accomplish in time. North Liberty High School seniors Tyler Richards and Jonathan Thompson decided their project would be about making a solution for the watery ketchup problem. Jonathan states "Wet bread is gross" so they decided to solve the problem by designing a cap that forces the ketchup up through a spout while leaving the watery parts below the spout every time. Jonathan designed the spout on a school computer program and Tyler printed the spout on a 3D printer at their school. They both stated that they loved that class and the freedom to take hold of their learning.
If these videos and articles are what we have to look forward to if we incorporate PBL in our classrooms, then it is a great idea. We could learn how to give the learning back to the students and the students can teach us about their capabilities. As teachers we expect to teach our students what they need to know, but it stands to reason that through PBL we could be taught a thing or two through the students and their views on the world. Much like Tyler and Jonathan, they could surpass all expectations when they are left to their own devices. While I may not see this kind of invention in elementary school, I am excited to see what brilliant minds my students have.