Project-Based Learning (PBL) is something I have been highly interested in for quite some time; I have a general idea of what it’s about, but haven’t really had the time to investigate it in-depth or formally apply it to my teaching. I was not surprised to see PBL discussed as a component of the “fast trend” of the Shift to Deeper Learning Approaches in the 2104 NMC Horizon Report (among others; it appeared in a surprising number of trends throughout the entire report). After reading it, I decided to take some time to research PBL further by reading through the websites suggested for further reading and then create my first formal PBL activity that I can use in my sixth grade classroom. This has been my first year teaching in a 1:1 Chromebook environment and I’ve noticed a natural progression in my lessons toward more project focused learning experiences because it’s what my students respond best to and learn the most from, so I am excited to try to implement a formal PBL unit.
One site recommended in the Horizon report that I found to be particularly useful for getting started with PBL was www.bie.org (Buck Institute for Education). They provide a great list of reasons to give PBL a try, the most important of which being that students will be active and engaged in their learning and therefore retain what they’ve learned longer and be able to apply it in more meaningful ways. Additionally, students will acquire more than just basic knowledge; they’ll learn how to solve problems, work together collaboratively, communicate, and take responsibility. They’ll use technology and critical thinking – all of which are necessary within the Common Core Standards. But the benefits are not just for students – teachers benefit, too, in that they can work individually with students or small groups to provide personalized feedback and instruction, acting as a facilitator of high-quality, meaningful learning. (A list of research that substantiates all this can be found here). The website provides an extensive list of resources that allow you to search by topic, grade level, etc., to find already created PBL lesson plans. Since this is a new idea for me, I decided for this first one to use a provided lesson but adapt it to meet my specific needs. The lesson plan can be found below or by clicking here.