Project Based Learning: Explained.
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Project Based Learning: Explained.


You remember what it was like in school. It
was boring! You sat in class, memorized as much as you could and tried to pass the test at the end. But is that good enough? These days school can be more interesting
and effective. By focusing students on work that matters. This is Project Based Learning Explained. Most adults live in a world of projects. Whether it’s a job assignment, home improvement or planning a wedding, we
need to actively solve problems. But unfortunately, schoolwork looks more like this than this. Let’s take a look at this Project Based World. Meet Claire. She was recently presented with a challenge. Her company, Super Suds, makes soap and it was up to her to find the most earth-friendly
way to produce it in the future. Her boss gave her a budget and a few requirements- and it was up to her to come up with a solution. She organized and managed a team who researched the options and created materials summarizing the issues. Claire’s team asked for feedback and presented their findings
to the boss. Claire came out of the project looking like
a rock star–and she learned a lot about green products. If you look closely, Claire’s success involved critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Things than aren’t often taught in traditional
classrooms. The world needs more Claires. So how do we get them? The answer is Project Based Learning or PBL. By focusing students on a project, teachers put them on a path that deepens their
knowledge and builds skills they’ll need in the future. Here’s what I mean. Mr. Simmons has always been a good science
teacher and his students do well on Friday’s tests. Unfortunately, what they learned is gone by Saturday morning. That wasn’t good enough for him. Soon he learned about Project Based Learning
and decided to give it a shot. Mr. Simmons got the idea for his first
project, on microorganisms, when nearly half of his students were suddenly absent with
the flu. He asked his students why they thought so
many of their classmates got sick at the same time. That lively discussion produced a lot of good
questions and a list of things that kids wanted to know. Mr. Simmons then announced their project was to help elementary school
kids understand, How can we do not get sick? After dividing the class into teams, he got them started on the project. It was up to the students to ask questions,
research, collaborate, give each other feedback and figure out the best ways to make their
points clear to children. One team chose to make an educational video
on the connection between hand washing and avoiding the flu. Another chose to create posters to show how
viruses spread. The project teams showed off their final work
to an enthusiastic audience of parents and their children at a nearby elementary school. Sitting in the front row was our good friend
and local rock star Claire, who saw a bit of herself in the students. It was clear that the project was a success
for the students, the audience, and Mr. Simmons. His students practiced critical thinking, collaboration and communication. The project wasn’t about memorization, but
learning in-depth about viruses and how to prevent spreading disease. A lesson they will never forget. At the end of the presentation, Claire introduced herself to the students
and told them that they were rock stars and that the world needs more people who can think
like them. To learn more about Project Based Learning, go to BIE.org.

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38 thoughts on “Project Based Learning: Explained.

  1. Great, but it's not possible to do this for every topic. We do a lot of this in Ireland in the 4th year of high school, but it takes up a lot of classtime.

  2. Good stuff. I am a Civics & Law teacher in NYC and am currently getting students prepared for a mock trial. Only a couple of my teams are working well together. After watching this video, I have decided to let the students choose how they want to present their part of the trial. Instead of all written material, they could create a posterboard of the charges in the case, gather a bag of evidence they feel is relevant, and so forth. That might solve the "I'm tired of writing" complaint. Thanks.

  3. For some subjects this can work, but, I'm sorry, the BASICS still need to be taught, and PBL cannot teach them this. For example, I teach high school social studies. Most of my students have had PBL since elementary. By the time the students got to my classes, they knew how to make a great project, but DID NOT know the 50 states and their locations, DID NOT know the difference between Washington DC and Washington state, etc… This is due to PBL.

  4. @Rugby80 The basics are ignored, and the previous are just examples from social studies. I, personally, graduated from a high school that had PBL back in the 90's. Although I was a good student, when I went to college I had to RELEARN EVERYTHING! I went to (supposedly) one of the best public schools in the country, and I was not prepared for a taste of the real world. A lot of this was due to PBL training students to do a GREAT diorama, but not knowing how to properly read, write,

  5. @Rugby80 due basic math without the use of calculators, etc. If we have generation after generation of students being taught how to do projects, but they do not retain the information for long-term use, it can have major negative impacts on American society.

    Furthermore, PBL teaches students a unrealistic lesson: everything has to be FUN. This isn't how life works, and I, as a teacher, am not doing my students any favors if I give them the notion that I and the school are nothing more than

  6. @Rugby80 "entertainers" for them. This does not help them in the long run.

    Projects CAN be useful SOMETIMES- but it should be a tool, not the basis. And yes, lectures CAN be engaging for students. I find it funny when it's stated lecturing is not engaging; however, a stand-up comedian can engage an audience of hundreds or thousands LECTURING with humor. The problem is not lectures in the classroom, but how the material is presented. PBL can have negative impacts in the long run.

  7. @Rugby80 Just 2 cents worth from an American public school educator who is frustrated on how our students are being "taught".

  8. @Rugby80 I have read your posts, and have a lot of respect for your opinions. However, I would like to constructively argue with you that the basics have NOT been "ignored," but rather, in PBL are not the end-game. Our standardized tests don't require our kids to even Remember facts…just recognize the correct one from a list. As kids Create their projects, the teacher needs to be sure that the skills they are learning are becoming more complex as they work their way up Bloom's Taxonomy.

  9. So how can we do this with math? I hated all of my high school math classes because my teachers failed explain how I will ever use factoring a trinomial, or knowing how to calculate with imaginary numbers will ever com in handy in my adult life; therefor I never understood why I should pay attention and break my back just to learn these inconsequential calculus equations.

  10. @TheBallKeeper Despite the couple of your expressed ideas that hold merit, your delivery is littered with biased and on the whole deeply ignorant. To say the least If you were clever you'd realize that if you want to influence someone's thinking, you don't insult them.

  11. @beccalincecum You can make the goals worthwhile.

    Take a look at sports. Why would people run for miles, lift weights for hours, risk injuries, and perform repetitive motions day after day? I think athletes do those things because there are some very basic human desires that are fulfilled by sports.

    I think one way to make math more human is to focus proving something. Look at that story about Archimedes and The Golden Crown. He was so happy that he ran naked in public screaming "Eureka!"

  12. I'm interested in how they get students to participate. How do they motivate those that think everything is boring and lame? How do they get loners to work well with groups? How do they deal with students who game the system?

  13. @iwasfrancisd I'm a student, The thing that gets student like me motivated is the fact that you make the topic of your project interesting, not make it seem like something we should be extremely excited about (not overdoing it), and allow humor.

  14. This doesn't work. It's a good theory, but most of the students I know don't split the work equally and it ends up being pushed onto one person, even if they report it to the teacher as "everyone did their fair share."

  15. The really big problem about this is; Not everyone are able to work in groups, either because they just don't like working with others, or because of social problems.

  16. This works well if all the students are equally motivated. Sadly, most of the time they aren't. This system looks good on paper, but it doesn't exactly work out as perfect as they say it does.

  17. While it's true that groups will not always function correctly, it's vital for kids to do this kind of work because in the real world, they may be assigned into a dysfunctional group. It's important for kids to learn to adapt. And even if the group is dysfunctional on occasion, does that mean memorization and regurgitation of information is a better way to learn? At least with project-based learning the kids participating are more likely to remember the information.

  18. I find it weird that alot of people are complaining that it will ruin my grades, it won't work well with a bad group or even "i'll carry the entire group on my back". Actually, how is that bad? Grades based on tests are a big flop, because you simply don't study and go take tests when WORKING in real life. You have a problem/project and you work your way through it. What about bad groups? You think you will only work with people you like in real life? And the same thing applies for "carriers".

  19. As a kid who is actually in high school with a few teachers who do this stuff, I actually rather have the memorization. Here are some of the issues I've experianced with group projects. 1) It's in a teen's nature to procrastinate. If we have groups, those who don't procrastinate will end up doing all the work, otherwise everyone will procrastinate and not do the amount of research and colaboration the teacher wanted. 2) No matter how great an idea is, majority vote comes into play. (cont part 2)

  20. (part two) No matter how shallow and stupid it is, social status and friends in the group WILL come into play on who has the "best" idea. 3) People will automaticly be draw to the assembly line method, each researching one thing without learning everything about the topic. 4) It's important that we get experiance, but teachers today spend about one week per topic/unit. There's not enough time to work in these projects. 5) its more productive to do projets with 1-2 people who will EACH understand

  21. Ok, from 5th grade I've had this kind of way of learning and it ONLY works if everyone wants to learn, it does improve learning but also makes it possible to do nothing at all. The work of a group is always the average of their work, ergo if one does nothing, the others are forced to work harder.

    My opinion is that this does NOT work until children gets into their late teens OR when the class has a very specific type of education.

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