Project based learning (PBL) allows students to achieve academic successes and helps prepare them to face the challenges of the everyday world. Project based learning allows students to work on a project over an extended period and brings learning to life. Teachers will often pick projects that have students solving a current real-world problem or answering a complex question. Students can develop their critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills during their participation in project based learning initiatives.
Project based learning isn’t something that you master in a short amount of time. The first couple of times you try it, there are bound to be some hiccups. As you develop how you initiate your projects, you will also learn right alongside your students. What works for one class, will not work the following year for another class. If you are looking to integrate project based learning into your classroom, the following techniques will help make this teaching method a great tool for your classroom.
Create Learning Spaces
One of the characteristics of a PBL classroom is that the teacher puts emphasis on group work and that students work with their peers to solve problems and answer questions they may have. For this to happen, a classroom must be organized to support collaboration. Desks should be arranged in pods or groupings and elementary classrooms, it’s important to allow students to have access to floor mats or cushions for alternate places to work.
There still needs to be a central location in the classroom where students can gather to listen to stories, be given instructions for projects, or hear stories, but there needs to be room beyond that where students can break into group work.
Classrooms that are PBL classrooms prominently feature and make full use of educational technology. Project based learning helps students develop real-world skills and technology allows them to do that. While technology can become a distraction, it should be monitored, and teachers should provide the appropriate guidance when students are using the internet.
Be the Resource
As an educator, you need to become the most important element of a classroom where project based learning is used. PBL classrooms are unpredictable and mostly guided by students. As a teacher, it is important to be flexible, supportive and engaged in your students learning processes even if you kind of feel like a spectator. It is the teachers’ job to introduce project themes, goals, and ensure that your students have all of the resources and materials they need to complete their projects.
If you are considering transitioning to a PBL classroom full or part-time, it can be intimidating at first. As project based learning continues to gain traction throughout the education community, expect it to become apart of educational training eventually. But for now, any additional information you may need about project based learning can be found in continuing education programs, conferences, books, and online resources.