Project Based Learning

Discussion in 'General Education' started by otterpop, Apr 9, 2015.

  1. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Does anyone have experience with PBL? I'd like to start but am not sure how! I only teach Language Arts, so it would have to deal primarily with that. Any resources you can recommend? Is it possible to do PBL if you teach single subjects?
     
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  3. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I would be interested as well.

    I do not really understand PBL as most of the projects seem like culminating activities, whereas I thought they would be ongoing activities that build new knowledge and reenforce/review old knowledge.

    But I never really see this in any examples that I have seen.
     
  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    It's really tough to put a defining finger on what is and isn't PBL. I still don't really understand it and I've been studying it for over two years by reading books and such. I will be attending a PD on it later this year so hopefully that can clear some things up for me as well.

    Anyway, I TRIED to make my elective a PBL elective because I can pretty much do whatever I want with it. I say 'tried' because under some definitions of PBL it's not PBL. But basically all we do is projects, and students have to learn new skills to complete these projects. That's easy in a class where the main focus for them is to learn new skills in technology etc.

    It's not so easy when the goal is to learn standards and you're using the technology as a vector towards learning and not the main lesson, because then most of your time is spent teaching them the new technology, etc.

    I would imagine a formative project in PBL as some type of research project. For instance, they may have to research a problem AS WELL AS the concepts required by the standards, and then use all of that information to develop a solution to that problem and communicate that solution to the rest of the class and the community.

    That's what I think an ideal PBL project would look like.

    Of course there is also this whole discourse about what is project-based learning and what is problem-based learning.

    I led a mini-PD on this for our faculty and made this presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1_Dm1JRyKLuKM12l0hulpVMqYvJTiMZI7bdVBLLzX4yI/edit?usp=sharing


    The third slide describes the differences between the two. I personally prefer problem based learning as it seems more actually do-able in the classroom. It would seem to take a whole-school effort to do a real project based learning project.
     
  5. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I love project based learning and WISH I had more opportunities to use it. My favorite illustration is using it after your class has read a novel and kept a journal with questions and reactions. For the project, the students find a really big open-ended question. For example, if the students read The Giver, they can ask a question like, "How would implementation of Sameness change my own community?" That would lead students to look at such across-the-curriculum subjects as psychology and genetics.

    MAN, I wish my cooperating teacher had let me try this with my students! Now I'm at a school with a much more rigid curriculum.
     
  6. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I've always thought that combining the constructivist approach with project-based would be a great thing to do. Really, both are good ways to get students thinking more deeply.
     
  7. stampin'teacher

    stampin'teacher Cohort

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    My school is essentially structured using both the constructivist approach and project based learning. Our projects each year vary depending on student interest and learning necessities. Definitely not easy, but once you get a general template of how to operate, it's easier to insert different projects, activities, etc.

    This year students are creating a "Living Museum". They do research on a significant historical figure in CA history, and then put on a showcase for parents and fellow students. Imagine the movie Night at the Museum, but all about significant people in CA. Except without Ben Stiller or a giant T-Rex, haha!
     
  8. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I love the living museum project. I've done it with presidents and other biographical figures. So much fun and the kids really got into it.
     
  9. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Can you go into some detail as to how the students are learning the standards during this project or is it more of a culminating activity?
     
  10. stampin'teacher

    stampin'teacher Cohort

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    All figures are people we have learned about throughout the year relating to CA history. All the Social Studies lessons we use the entire year end up assisting with their research. Each child then does a more thorough research paper on their individual. This research paper is the basis for their knowledge in the museum. Afterwards, students create backdrops with the Art teachers, collect props & costumes, and all present as a culminating project at the end of the year. All the work is done throughout the year, but the museum itself is held at the end of the year, once they have studied CA history topics.
     
  11. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Thank you
     
  12. Special-t

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    Apr 12, 2015

  13. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    I love the idea of project based learning, and I would love to implement it into my classes even more, particularly with my honors classes.

    I'm not sure what exactly is and isn't project based learning, but I do one project that I'm pretty sure comes close. Instead of a traditional research project, my students had to complete a research project based on creating some sort of way to help meet a need in our community. So students had to research what was a "need" in our community, whether or not any organization was already doing something to meet that need, and what new idea they could bring to helping the community. Students had a fictional grant that they had to allocate budget-wise, and they had to produce 2000 words of writing and a 5 minute speech or video to "launch" their project.

    For example, one student discovered that low income residents had a difficult time getting to food pantries, so this student devised a way to deliver food to these people by partnering with a food pantry. He created a brochure to pass out at community events to rally volunteers, wrote (mock) grant requests to get extra money, created a Facebook page to advertise this service.

    Another student decided to paint murals to beautify areas of the city. When we conferenced, I pushed her to go further... What can these bring besides just beauty? She decieded that each mural would tell an empowering, inspiring story. She created each mural and wrote a fictional short story to go with each one. Since the emphasis of the project was "real world" writing, she also wrote mock professional emails she could send to the city and a sign that would go next to the mural explaining why it was there.

    The students said that, by far, they learned more from this project than they did any other assignment all year.
     
  14. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Can you go into some detail as to how students were learning new standards while doing this project or was it used more as a culminating activity?
     
  15. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Thanks all for sharing!

    Koriemo, this in particular is the direction I was thinking of heading. I would like to have my kids do something that makes an impact on others. I think it's too late this year, but next year, it would be interesting to try. I have heard of high school service projects, but not so much elementary.
     
  16. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    The main standard we hit was an informational reading standard: "Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem." I instructed them on this standard when I launched the project as well as through one on one conferencing.

    Another new standard was "Use technology... to produce, publish, and update...writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information." Students had to write a critical response to a classmate's idea and point out concerns and weaknesses. Then each student had to respond to the critique and change anything for which they could not provide a strong rebuttal.

    As far as other English standards, many are just building upon each other. Students practice the same skills, just with higher level reading materials and higher expectations for writing.

    Student practiced with many of the reading informational text standards. Part of the research involved reading articles they found about their topics, and they had the fill out short worksheets with questions related to the standards. For example, one standard is "Determine two or more central ideas of a text...provide an objective summary of the text."

    Students hit some of the writing standards, though different students learned different standards. My student who wrote fictional stories learned about narrative writing, while my student who created a website learned about informational writing. The instruction on the standard mainly came through drafting and conferencing. For example, one standard for narrative writing is, "Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture." When a student came to me with something bland, I pointed out the vague details and when sensory details would strengthen the story.
     
  17. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Koriemo, ty very much for taking the time to elaborate.
     
  18. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    Apr 12, 2015

    Apparently the Finnish Government have decreed that Finnish schools will be switching to PBL. However they have not reckoned on the teachers who plan to ignore the decree.
     

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