Todays’s classroom is mostly following along, retaining, and reiterating what the teacher is trying to convey. This can be an effective process for some students depending on the material being taught; maybe dates of an event or the presidents of the United States in chronological order, but are children really understanding or simply memorizing data? There are definitely many other approaches and processes that are used by educators that are constructive and efficient, but one tried and tested concept is PBL or project based learning.
Project based learning is the concept that children are given a driving question with learning goals in sight that may include real world roles, problems to be solved, a debate, or just a thought-provoking subject. The idea here is to give the students a base to begin and are then free to direct the project in any way. This really opens up their abilities and enables them to use their own curiosities and research. Project based learning allows students to explore, figure out, and learn along the way of their findings.
As a student, I have encountered both forms of teaching and project based learning was by far more intriguing, making me want to continue my self-directed studying. When I was given the freedom to conceptualize what I wanted my project to become, it made me want to excel and really grasp what I was gaining intellectually. These are the lessons I still remember fondly and after many years could retell what I learned.
As an educator, there is nothing more that I would like than for my students to be excited about learning, researching, and demonstrating what they have found. Project based learning is an incredible way to engage students and develop their self-efficacy. PBL will strengthen a child’s critical thinking, collaboration skills, problem-solving skills and creativity. This alone should be reason enough to incorporate it into any classroom.
Here is a great video on project based learning by Edutopia:
Here is an article explaining how project based learning is different from projects: