Saturday, February 21, 2015

What is PBL?

In a previous post, I discussed why we need more PBL and creative learning. Why not spend just a few seconds answering a crucial question, what is PBL? How does PBL as a pedagogical approach enable students to be creative learners? Of course, a simple blog post will just scratch the surface, but let’s get started.

What is Project-Based Learning?

“Project-based learning is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge.”

“Project-Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge”

Timothy Monreal (also known as me)
“Project-Based learning is a freaking great way to engage students, promote problem solving, and make creativity the norm.”

This video explains PBL and gives a real world example. Watching this video gets me so excited. I love designing project-based learning units. Seeing students dive in, attack a problem, and learn in great detail is a wonderful sight. I never know where students will take a project, and I love learning from them.

There are key differences between the projects parents (I mean kids) do and project-based learning. Take a look at the chart for further explanation.


Let’s work through an example:
Each and every year, fourth graders in California complete a mission project. The teachers give the students exact specifications, tell them exactly what it should look like, and then makes them complete it at home. Students learn nothing except how frustrated their parents get building missions. This is not PBL.

How would this look with PBL?
Teachers and students work to develop a driving question. For example,
  • How did Native Americans view the mission system?
  • Should California missions be funded as state parks?

The students look deeply into these questions to produce something that is shared. This could be journal from the eyes of Native Americans, or a presentation about funding state parks. When it is completed, the class shows their work to authentic audience members, perhaps a local tribe or city councilwomen. The necessary content is not only learned in the process, but it is contextualized, relevant, and engaging.

This is SERIOUS fun. This is a transformed classroom. This is 21st century learning.

Intrigued, excited? Go down the rabbit hole to learn more.

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