What is Project Based Learning?

Project Based Learning is a method of instruction that encourages students to learn through the use of projects and problem solving. PBL projects are more than just engaging lessons, instead they include essential elements that raise the rigor of learning in a project.

PBL projects are aligned with multiple standards and often across multiple content areas. They’re usually student-driven with many chances for students to make choices about how they work on a project and how they present their findings.

1. Project Based Learning works across content areas.

We know that in the real world, problems frequently require more than just information and skills found in one subject area. Project Based Learning is usually used with a diverse group of learners and focuses on students applying what they know from multiple content areas to solve a real-world problem.

2. Project Based Learning is active and complex

Unlike traditional classrooms that often require recalling information or recognizing information, PBL applies knowledge and skills. This means it’s a great way of assessing how your students apply what they’ve learned academically into a new context.

Much like the scientific process, in project based learning projects start with an initial question. This initial question leads students through the project based learning process, encouraging them to learn more about the question while also finding real world applications for it. This type of complex thinking leads to the development of skills vital for the 21st century like problem solving, communicating effectively, and designing research based solutions.

3. Project Based Learning is student driven

In a PBL classroom, you’ll see groups of students working on different aspects of the project. Each aspect is driven by the need to problem solve in order to address a driving question. For example, one group of students may be researching to learn more about background information, while another group is developing questions for an interview with a business professional in a field associated with the project. Teachers participate in PBL by acting as facilitators in the classroom. They’ll check on the status of each group, and teach mini-lessons or provide guidance as needed. They’ll also have checkpoints that determine if students are staying on task and are on-track with the project timeline.

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