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Keys to Project Based Learning

Today on Twitter I came across a blog post titled “How to Reinvent Project Based Learning to Be More Meaningful”.  I really enjoyed reading this post because I have heard and learnt a lot of information and theories based on PBL in university and why it is important to use, but have never found any practical ways to implement it and how to be successful/authentic while using this approach in the classroom. This post has 5 main practical implications and ways to make project based learning more authentic and meaningful. The author, Thom Markham, states

 It continues to be misinterpreted as a single teaching strategy rather than as a set of design principles that allow us to introduce the philosophy of inquiry into education in an intelligent and grounded way. It’s plagued by misunderstandings about when it should be used, and when not, and to what extent it can fulfill the mandate of a standards-based system. Too often, it ends with enthusiastic students delivering mediocre work — and teachers aren’t sure what went wrong or right.

This particular area stood out to me because I realized that in order to successfully teach through a project based approach in your classroom, you need to fully believe in the applications of it and it needs to become a part of your teaching philosophy. It is like anything in life-if you truly believe in what you are doing then you will be successful at it but if you are doing something because it is a fad it will most likely lose its lustre and you will quit. I love the idea of Google’s 20% time where they let their engineers work on any project of their own for 20% of their time and as a result their productivity goes up. This type of PBL is being done in schools and is being called Genius Hour. I love this idea and I wonder if individual classrooms are doing it as a single subject genius hour, or if it is being tied across many subjects as a cross curricular learning experience (if you are reading this and have tried genius hour, I would love to hear your thoughts on it as I want to learn more).

In the blog the author talks about making collaboration as powerful in school as it is life, and how it is important to make collaboration a foundational skill, to make your teams have purpose and to use peer review. I believe this is so important because collaboration is an essential part of the 21st century in businesses, schools, and elsewhere. Having collaboration be meaningful and realistic allows students the practice to work with one another, bounce ideas off of one another, review and edit projects with each other and review each other in a safe environment.

Do you agree with the philosophy and design principles of project based learning? Have you tried it in your classroom? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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2 thoughts on “Keys to Project Based Learning

  1. Kelsey, you raise some good questions here. I’m going to direct you to the Genius Hour resource I’m addicted to – the LiveBinder – here: http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=829279 You’ll find many teachers who are trying this concept under the “Grade-Level Stories” tab. What I’ve found after trying it for only two years now, is that the ideas leak into the rest of your week, even if you are doing this “single-subject only.” Here’s a post I wrote about this: http://geniushour.blogspot.com/2013/09/genius-hour-has-gotten-lot-of-attention.html I believe that it really is an avenue to better teaching, and has made me a better teacher. (Of course, I’m longing to improve more every day!) I wish you luck on your journey – Thank you for sharing your ideas!

    • Joy,

      Thank you for your comments! I appreciate the feedback and the sharing of resources as it allows me to deeper understand the concepts and ideas! What areas and grades do you implement PBL?

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