The How and Why of Project Based Learning
24 August 2018
How would you describe an ‘ideal’ Year 12 graduate? When this question was asked at a three-day training event earlier this year on Project Based Learning (PBL), teachers responded with characteristics such as: a problem solver, a critical and creative thinker, a collaborator, a communicator, confident, responsible... and the list went on. When I stop and think about it, I don’t only want to see these qualities in our Year 12 graduates, I want them for my children throughout all levels of their schooling.
In its simplest form, Project Based Learning is a method of teaching that uses projects to organise the curriculum. Students learn important academic content through well-designed projects by investigating questions, generating and evaluating solutions and producing products that demonstrate what they have learned. Project Based Learning provides greater opportunities for students to develop critical thinking, communication skills, creativity, collaboration skills and the ability to problem solve, amongst many other competencies.
Project Based Learning isn’t just about doing projects - it needs to be rigorous. A well-designed project is organised around a driving question that encourages students to delve deeply into learning. Students are engaged in the PBL unit for a sustained period of time and the project is authentic to the real world. Increasingly, students will have the opportunity to make some decisions about a project and have a greater voice in their learning, giving them greater ownership over it. Reflection is built into a well-designed project for both students and teachers to reflect on learning, the project itself, the quality of work, the effectiveness of their questioning and to determine the best way forward. Ongoing feedback is a key component as students give, receive and utilise the feedback to inform their learning. Throughout the PBL unit students are working on a product to share with people beyond the classroom, making their learning relevant to the real world. Project Based Learning is not a panacea for all educational problems, but it motivates students, prepares them for college, university and careers, and develops them as global citizens. It helps students meet the curriculum content and do well on tests, especially where they are asked to demonstrate deep learning and show their thinking skills. It provides a platform for teachers to teach in a more motivating way, and it provides the school with new ways of communicating and connecting with parents, the wider community and the world.
We’re only just beginning the PBL journey and we’re excited to be focused on this student-centred method of learning and teaching. We’re working as part of a network of schools and further training will take place early next year with the view to having all teachers trained in PBL to ensure its quality in the classroom.
What messages do your girls hear from you?
Leading Learning Team