While creating a Project Based Learning unit it is important to remember it is about the journey, not the destination. It is easy to become overwhelmed when thinking about planning lessons that may have multiple standards, take multiple class periods, and could include some unforeseen detours and road blocks. Here are three tips from the ITF's to consider while developing an effective PBL.
1. Address Your Standards
When thinking about creating a PBL for students, it is important to always begin with the standard(s) that you would like to address. Ideally, you would choose multiple standards from different subjects that lend themselves to self-directed learning and a culminating event. Students could work to create a product or presentation or solve a problem.
From a teacher's perspective, PBL allows for collaboration among teachers whether they be grade level or across subject areas.
2. Begin with the End in Mind
As you begin to think through a Project Based Learning experience for students, it is important to first think about what you would like to have the students accomplish. After beginning with the standards, decide how students will demonstrate their learning through a real world or real world "like" scenario. While thinking through how your students will demonstrate their learning, it is also important to incorporate 21st century skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration, and creativity and innovation.
3. It's Not All About You!
Project Based Learning will look different from your traditional classroom. Teachers will no longer be the "sage on the stage" but a facilitator of student learning. Teachers will not plan out lessons day by day, but rather teach through the workshop model based on student needs. Therefore, groups within the class will mostly likely be working on different skills at a different pace/time. In addition, students should have voice and choice in the project. Students are choosing the vehicle to demonstrate their mastery of standards. The teacher will not be dictating the project or product students create. Although there will be an "ending" point to your PBL, students can demonstrate their learning throughout their journey of Project Based Learning. The assessment of standards should not be solely based on the final product, presentation, or project.
If you or your team would like support in creating a PBL, please contact an ITF team member!