For PBL success, don't get overwhelmed
- Writing for Edutopia, Shanghai American School Instructional Coach Andrew Miller shares a number of strategies and tactics for educators looking to implement project-based learning, chief among them being an overarching insistence that they "don't go crazy."
- While the temptation might be to create entirely new projects from scratch, Miller writes that educators can "renovate" existing projects from other grade levels or similar subject areas and adapted them to meet their curricular needs.
- He also suggests limiting the scope based on the amount students should learn from the project, planning early to account for the amount of time required to create and implement a project, gathering feedback from peers, thinking of the project as the "main course" of students' learning and not the "dessert," and taking time to reflect once it's completed.
Project-based learning's popularity has exploded in recent years, and for good reason. Employers are demanding students better-equipped with both hard, technical skills and "soft" skills. A well-designed project can provide the hands-on experience necessary to fill those needs while giving students "real-world" learning opportunities.
But, as Miller points out, this active form of learning can be time consuming, and administrators encouraging its adoption must be wary of the potential for educator burnout that can come with it. Bay Path University Associate Professor of Biology Thomas Mennella has detailed his experiences with this when adopting flipped learning at the higher ed level, noting that the approach significantly increased the amount of time dedicated to grading assignments and the number of hours spent interacting with students. Project-based learning can bring similar challenges, from planning to implementation, that must remain top-of-mind for all involved, necessitating consideration of additional classroom supports.
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