What is Project-Based Learning?
PBL is a constructivist, inquiry-based learning pedagogy that is often cross-disciplinary and based in “real life.” Gone is the question, “When am I ever going to use this?” and is replaced with “What do I need to learn so I can solve this problem?” With a final presentation that involves the community, students have accountablilty beyond the classroom, as well as acknowledgement and praise from a wider support base.
With clear outcomes, the development of projects can be tied to local or national learning standards, including the Common Core.
BIE provides professional development, training, and sample projects to help teachers get up and running with PBL, regardless of where they are or what age they teach.
As a teacher who is beyond tired of “chalk and talk,” and who recognizes that my students need tangible, presentable outcomes from their studies beyond their transcripts, having my students work toward creating a portfolio of their skills is critical. I know I don’t do PBL as well as I should, but with practice and the tools available through BIE I’m sure I’ll improve.
One of the key areas in which I have difficulty is in the final projects and presentation to the community. Because my students are EFL learners, the host community doesn’t really communicate in the target language of the course. This makes authentic use and demonstration of their skills difficult. It also makes it difficult to demonstrate to them the authentic usefulness of the language in their day to day lives.
Where can I learn more?
The Buck Institute for Education (BIE) is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to get Project-Based Learning (PBL) in every kind of classroom at every level.
I was happy to learn that BIE has expanded their sample, Gold-Standard project samples significantly since I visited a few years ago, and that they have regular updates to their blog and resources that I should be paying attention to more closely! I’ve also added them to my Twitter feeds. It’s always helpful to have good models when working toward a goal.
Overall, I must commend BIE for their work and achievements in promoting PBL to and proviidng education in PBL for teachers around the world. Their resources are simply top-notch and worth checking out for anyone who is interested in either learning more about PBL or getting better at their own practice.
Edutopia is another organization that promotes the use of PBL in the classroom. Edutopia is a project of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, which is “focused on practices and programs that help students acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, skills and beliefs to achieve their full potential” (source).
Edutopia’s website provides access to research and information on PBL, as well as guides and other reseources for teachers.
Buck Institute for Education Website (n.d.). Retrieved from: www.bie.org
Edutopia (n.d.) Vision and Mission. Retrieved from: https://www.edutopia.org/mission-vision