Getting Started With Project-Based Learning (Hint: Don’t Go Crazy)
Do you want to get started with project-based learning right away? Are you worried about running out of time? Do you have any questions regarding how to get kids to participate in their first project? The implementation of PBL in the classroom is fraught with worries and inquiries from those who are new to the concept.
One of the things we emphasise to new PBL practitioners is to “avoid going insane,” as I like to remark. When you first start out with PBL, it’s easy to overextend yourself. Many teachers who are new to project-based learning (PBL) have told me that a huge, eight-week integrated project was a mistake. It was difficult to maintain momentum, and students frequently became disinterested in the project itself. It is important for teachers and students to think about their own scaffolds as well as a smooth transition to longer-term and more complicated PBL projects as part of their planning. For those of you who are just getting started with PBL, here are a few things to think about.
RENOVATE A PROJECT
Projects and project libraries can be found all over the place. Teachers can save time by renovating an existing project rather than starting from scratch and developing a whole project with all of the learning objectives, milestones, and products.
Always remember to look at projects from various grade levels when searching for project ideas in project libraries. Despite the fact that you might want that particular precise seventh-grade social studies project, you might be able to find a relevant project in 11th grade that could be adapted to meet your requirements.
Be open to projects everywhere you go, look for fantastic ideas, and then tweak them.
Students should gain more knowledge the longer the assignment lasts. For this reason, a four-week project will almost always target a large number of standards that must be taught and graded, which can be overwhelming for a first project of this nature.
For your initial project, try to narrow your attention to two or three high-priority requirements. Concentrate your learning on a single subject rather than on
numerous disciplines at the same time. Also, strive for a project that lasts two to three weeks, or around 10 to 15 contact hours.
In addition to restricting the amount of time available, you might want to try narrowing your options. Instead of providing a long list of product selections, provide a concise menu. Allocate time for students to choose how they wish to work, but select the teams that will work on the project. There are a variety of approaches to include voice and choice into a project, however these characteristics might be restrictive.
Teachers and their students can achieve short-term success by reducing the scope of a project, allowing them to acquire the necessary stamina for more difficult projects in the future.
The planning process is one of the most difficult aspects of PBL, but it is also one of the most enjoyable. PBL necessitates extensive planning ahead of time, which takes a large amount of time. You’ll need to plan evaluations and scaffolds, as well as gather resources to aid in the learning process during the project.
You may be able to complete part of this within planned planning time; nevertheless, you should approach your leadership for innovative ways to carve out additional time for planning. Perhaps staff meetings can be scheduled during this time, or perhaps release days might be made available.
It’s critical to plan ahead of time and to feel prepared and confident while embarking on a project. With the help of the backward design process, you can efficiently map out a project that is ready to be implemented in the classroom setting.
The benefits of planning include being able to differentiate instruction and match the requirements of your kids rather than being stuck in constant crisis mode, trying to figure out what will happen tomorrow.
MAIN COURSE, NOT DESSERT
When you have a fantastic project in mind, reach out to your coworkers both digitally and in person to acquire their input and opinions. Posting an idea on Twitter or doing a gallery walk of ideas, when teachers stroll through your project gallery and write feedback on Post-its, are both effective ways to accomplish this. Consider having a 30-minute talk with either a teacher colleague or an instructional coach if you are able.
NOT THE DESSERT, BUT THE MAIN COURSE
When working on a short-term project, it’s easy to fall into the trap of creating a “dessert” project that isn’t necessarily grounded on inquiry. When using project-based learning, the project itself serves as the learning—it serves as the “main course.” In fact, many teachers who believe they are engaging in PBL are actually engaged in project-based learning. In project-based learning, you teach via the project rather than teaching and then executing the project.
To ensure a high-quality experience while remaining focused and on schedule, create a PBL project checklist that is both effective and efficient. It is beneficial to ensure that you are concentrating on important components such as inquiry, voice and choice, and substantial information while creating a presentation.
COMMIT TO REFLECTION
We’re all learners, and when we embark on a new endeavour, we begin with a tiny goal in mind, narrowing our attention to help us master the larger task step by step. One important component of this is that, once you have completed a project, you should set aside some time to think on it.
Make use of reflective practises such as journaling, talking with an instructional coach, or following a formal reflection process with a group of teachers.
After careful consideration, projects get better and may last for many years. As a result, the time spent in contemplation pays off in the form of time saved on successive cycles through the project.