Project based learning (PBL) is one of the most popular learning approaches teachers tend to use in the classroom. Project based learning is defined as:
- a student-centered pedagogy that involves a dynamic classroom approach in which students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems
What this means is PBL is a way of teaching where students get to work on something for a decent amount of time that is focused on a topic the teacher picks. The students’ project may be anything they want, this is where the students get to explore and use their imagination. Usually there are some limits and restrictions as well as guidelines and necessities but for the main part the students get the freedom to roam wherever they want.
Photo CC- By emergingedtech
A fantastic article to read if you are interesting in PBL and want to find out more is called What is Project Based Learning? I would highly recommend checking it out, there are many links to explore on there that give wonderful information.
Project based learning is important because it gives students freedom to make choices. Most kids feel more passion and motivation to complete things when they get the chance to pick what they would like to focus on when learning. Students become more engaged in their work as well as motivated. It gives the students of developing their own plan and coming up with their own ideas which they will need to do when out of school and working, PBL really prepares students for life after school.
When teachers use this approach the classroom can be a little chaotic some days and pretty quiet other days. What I mean by that is it really depends on the day and what the students are doing. On the first day the teacher introduces the topic and explains the guidelines and limitations, then the students think about what they could create for the project, this day can be a little loud with students brainstorming and talking ideas over. The rest of the days are spent trying to complete the project where the students are working at their desk with materials of all kinds. Sometimes it can be nice to play music during these days but try and maintain a bearable noise level. Students are free to walk around and grab materials that are needed and use available space. They do sometimes like to get a little loud talking to their fellow classmates but sometimes students are extremely quiet while concentrating on their work.
The classroom space is organized in a way that makes things easily accessible and keeps the room open for working space. When using PBL teachers need to keep the room open in a way it is easy to get around and keep the desks clear enough that the students have plenty of room to work. Here is one example of a PBL focused classroom:
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A teacher would choose PBL as their main approach to learning because it is “an effective and enjoyable way to learn.” The advantages of project based learning outweigh the disadvantages by a lot. Some advantages include providing opportunities for hands on work, which a lot of students learn best using, preparing the student for out of school life, and gives students more freedom. A list of more advantages can be found in this article called Why Project Based Learning. The biggest disadvantage to PBL is that teachers may have less control of the classroom as they want, at least less control of the overall projects and work handed in. However this can be made better with the use of careful limitations and guidelines.
A fantastic blog about project base learning can be found here. It has great resources and tips for any educators thinking about using PBL in their own classroom.
Some great accounts on Twitter to follow that focus on PBL are:
I encourage everyone becoming an educator and everyone who already is an educator to look into project based learning. It is a fantastic approach to learning and benefits most every student!