Thursday, July 1, 2010

Project-Based Learning

I recently came across two articles and three videos dealing with project learning from Edutopia. We all know that students need to be engaged learners and project-based learning is not a new concept for teachers but many teachers may not fully understand how to create a meaningful project that includes all content areas. The video examples showcased a learning expedition where students and teachers spent up to a semester working on a learning project.

The first article Six Steps for Planning a Successful Project provides the steps and examples of how to create a project from beginning to final product. The next article Five Questions to Ask Before You Start a Projectposed questions the teachers should consider to make sure there are enough resources and examples to make the project meaningful for all students.

Each of the videos detailed a project the students worked on and presented to parents and the community. The projects involved community resources, teachers from universities and experts in various fields. The learning expeditions were real for the students who interviewed people, took pictures in the community and presented the projects from their perspectives and point of view.

Here are the videos:
It’s important for teachers to remember that these learning expeditions can be tailored to fit the time and resources available in their communities. A learning project doesn’t have to include an entire grade level of teachers; a well-planned project could be carried out by a couple of teachers. Also, think about including technology resources such as Skype and available free software that could be utilized for the project. Students need to learn from real-world situations; students need to learn how to explore, problem-solve, collaborate and work as a team; teachers need to know how to use technology as a tool to change the nature of learning; and students who participate in learning expeditions will turn into investigators, problem-solvers, scientists, writers, artists, multimedia experts, presenters and communicators.

One guiding principle was prevalent throughout the articles and videos - after designing the learning project the teachers went through every step of the project, investigating, collaborating, designing and presenting a final product to the group. The teachers learned how to scaffold the tasks and learning of new skills so the students would be successful each step of the way through the learning expedition. This was a key factor in the success of the project – teachers taking the time to work through the learning project and completing a final product because what looks great on paper in reality may not work.

To read the articles and view the videos please go to Edutopia:


Scott Armstrong said...

My Sports & Entertainment Marketing I classes do a final project (a paper and presentation) at the end of the year. While it is a lot of work (for me and the students), it teaches the benefits of project management, deadlines and most importantly, reinforces the curriculum in the class--right before the final exam!

Shototech said...

Today's curriculum is so much more than words in a textbook. Project based learning takes more time to plan but having students work through real world projects is so beneficial in preparing students for the future job market.