What is Project-Based Learning?
According to Edutopia, “Project-based learning is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge.” PBL Works describes project-based learning in terms of its benefits: “Project Based Learning (PBL) prepares students for academic, personal, and career success, and readies young people to rise to the challenges of their lives and the world they will inherit.”
High Quality Project-Based Learning
When well executed by teachers, the projects are standards-based, intellectually rigorous, and cover the entire unit of study. The projects require higher-order thinking skills, deep exploration and sustained inquiry, and involve team collaboration. Students create their own learning pathways as they explore important knowledge and skills, engage with subject matter expertise, and share their ideas/results with an authentic audience. Students will reflect on their progress, make decisions about the quality of their own work, and participate in critique and revision processes, as well. While the popularity of this work is rapidly growing, the results of project-based learning are often limited.
In 2018, several organizations banded together to create a Framework for High Quality Project-Based Learning. With funding from the Project Management Institute and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the group created a resource to help guide the development of such project-based classwork. Learning Innovation Catalyst’s coaching, workshops, and our LINCspring Cycles support teachers in developing rigorous approaches to classroom projects so that standards are met and that learning meets expectations.
LINC and Project-Based Learning
LINC’s approach to all professional learning follows Dr. Arnetha Ball’s model of Generative Change. Using that model as the basis for our work vastly increases the likelihood that teachers will apply their professional learning to practice. Unlike most sit-and-get PD, the Reflect-Tinker-Grow model ensures that teachers are reflecting on practice, tinkering with new approaches in their classrooms, and growing with peers in the development of new practices. While many organizations provide only templates and resources for project-based learning, LINC’s hands-on workshops and online LINCspring Cycles focus on transfer of skills, ensuring that teacher professional development impacts student learning.
Blended Learning Increases Engagement and Agency
“When successfully implemented, project-based learning enables these hallmarks of best teaching and learning practices:
- Personalization: providing unique learning pathways for individual students
- Agency: giving learners opportunities to participate in the key decisions in their learning experience
- Authentic Audience: giving learners the opportunity to create for a real audience both locally and globally
- Connectivity: giving learners opportunities to experience learning in collaboration with peers and experts locally and globally
- Creativity: providing learners individual and collaborative opportunities to make things that matter while building skills for their future” (Blended Learning in Action, p.6)