This week I am excited to share the information I found on PBL or in other words, project-based learning in the classroom. There is a lot more to this approach of learning than it sounds as it is usually just perceived as any kind of project incorporated into the classroom but it is much more than that. It is an approach to learning that involves learning different subjects simultaneously while guiding students to focus on real-life problems and find solutions to them by using relevant technology. The evidence is needed to be found from the students to support their reasonings and they must use problem-solving skills like critical thinking and analytical processes to fully be engaged in project-based learning.BIE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping teachers use PBL effectively. The essential elements of project-based learning that the buck institute for education states is having four phases which begin with the “Launch Project: Entry Event & Driving Question,” Entry event grabs attention of students, form of a video, interactive discussion, classroom speakers, field trips, or something like acting out a play. Driving question is open-ended, intriguing, involves the challenge presented, and promotes further learning interests. The video I have linked below gives an example of this with students trying to create a “Rube Goldberg” machine by acting as an engineer to represent how they are special or unique. I thought this was a really creative project as it shows their self-expression but also incorporates the aspects of architecture and the problems that are associated with making an assembled structure. This video goes into detail about a couple other elements of PBL and its application in the classroom.
Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash
I want to go to talk about another classroom that used project-based learning in Ross Cooper’s blog, “5 Ways I Screwed up (and Fixed) Project Based Learning in My Classroom.” This blog was very helpful as it explained things that happen that were unforeseen in the classroom but it also gave the approaches to fixing these obstacles. One of the first wrongdoing Cooper experienced was that he “Prioritized Cool Technology over Student Creativity.” This is something that can be overlooked in learning and has to do with the teacher’s preferences of technological resources that are prioritized over their personal creative abilities. Instead of instructing how to use the technology we should let our students have more flexibility with the technology used in order to manipulate it for their best-individualized purposes. An example that Cooper gives is when he implemented a weather data project that stretched over a three week duration. The directions included the students to use technology preferences that he the teacher chooses. The directions include, “Working as a team and calling upon all of your data and research, use Keynote and iMovie to create a weather presentation. Each member contributes a segment for his/her quantitative and/or qualitative data, and reasons why the weather acted the way that it did.” Even though this is an effective assignment, exploring critical thinking and data analysis, Cooper should have given them different options allowing them to use a program they were more familiar with or that they preferred. This can help promote student creativity and can help them express more of who they are as individuals through their projects.
I researched three expert teachers on this subject on Twitter and the ones that I chose were, Mike Gwaltney, Tikvah Wiener, Roger Hadgraft. Mike Gwaltney is the head of an upper school at Rocky Hill school. He is an educator, working on innovation while incorporating project-based learning. I read through a lot of this tweets and he is so influential with how many times a day he tweets and all the resources he links! Gwaltney gives tips on how to combat stress with different exercises and things like that to ease student learning! The next teaching expert I found on this subject was Tikvah Wiener. She is apart of opening “The Idea School” which is a project-based learning, interdisciplinary Jewish high school in Bergen County. Reading her progress with her faculty and opening up the school with their focused teachings that are paired with project-based learning is very effective with how I can see this learning process used. The last teaching expert that I followed and studied was Roger Hadgraft and he is a professor of engineering education and has a passion for project-based learning. He is an advocate in Australia for this form of learning and it is interesting to see how his processors compare and contrast with ones I see in the United States! In all, I loved researching this topic and it really taught me a lot about how to use tools in project-based learning in the classroom. Seeing and reading about examples in this research really expanded my perception of how I can keep students motivated and interested.
Edutopia. (n.d.). What the Heck Is Project-Based Learning? | Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-heck-project-based-learning-heather-wolpert-gawron
Lee, D. (2015, May 12). Introduction to Project Based Learning (PBL) Process. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08D0dBGIzYQ
Cooper, R. (2017, April 12). 5 Ways I Screwed up (and Fixed) Project Based Learning in My Classroom – Cooper on Curriculum. Retrieved from http://rosscoops31.com/2017/03/05/5-ways-screwed-fixed-project-based-learning-classroom/