Considerations in PBL

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Let’s review PBL (Project Based Learning). PBL is an instructional approach emphasizing student learning through active inquiry in small groups.

Essential elements in a PBL approach:
  • student-centered learning
  • small group cooperative learning
  • specific learning content
  • higher order questioning
  • expressing ideas and making evidence-based inferences;
  • developing a questioning frame of mind regarding information lacking supporting data.
  • connection with real world problems and results

Sucessful PBL
Most of us are regular teachers locked into a specific curriculum and on tight schedule restraints. So then, when and how can PBL be implemented?

Start Easy – Design a project that will satisfy your curriculum requirements and that you, the teacher, will feel comfortable guiding students to do. If more than one teacher is doing it, discuss and plan together. Also, if you can invite other subject teachers to be part of the project. Example: Library, computer, science, etc.

Choose – If you have many classes as middle and high school teacher do, choose a class that you know will work well with the PBL approach. Try it out with one class first before you expand to more classes. In elementary school, if you have a big class, you may want to work during a pull out period when you have a smaller number of students.

Plan – Break down and list the tasks involved in the project. Make a schedule of when the tasks should be completed. Give or post this information so students know what is expected and when.

Cooperative Groups – Assign working groups. Be specific and clear as to what and how students will be graded on. Put everything in writing, using rubrics whenever possible.

Guidance – Just because it is student centered learning doesn’t mean you abandon your students to their own devices, you should provide guidance for your students as they work. Give them suggestions that will make their work easiler or less frustrating. If you see students struggling with getting information from the Internet, stop and give everyone insight on more successful Internet searches. If you see they are copying and pasting information, discuss plagiarism.

Be Consistent – Do what you say and say what you mean! If you start to change things in the middle, your project might not be as good as you would like.

Celebrate – As a culminating activity, celebrate your project with a display, a presentation, a fair, a publication or some creative way to show off their hard work.