'Project slices' can help educators optimize PBL
- Shanghai American School instructional coach Andrew Miller writes for Edutopia that educators can test-run a larger project-based learning assignment among peers to get an idea of a hypothetical student's point-of-view on the activity and troubleshoot hiccups.
- These "project slices," as Miller refers to them, essentially replicate a condensed version of the larger project over the course of a day or so to reflect on what works, how it could become more engaging, and what challenges, if any, they may need to make students aware of or mitigate all together.
- To create a project slice, educators should consider the real and relevant problem the project is trying to address, what content and skills the project should teach and the launching point for the project. Other considerations are who the project is targeting, how long it will be and when it will happen, how to factor in direct instruction and how to deliver feedback and allow for reflection.
It's a common learning experience that things don't always work out as well as they sound on paper. By doing a test-run of a project ahead of actually assigning it to students, educators can find out how effective it may be while also getting feedback from their peers on what can be added or toned down in order to improve the overall learning experience.
The overall experience can provide a valuable hands-on professional learning opportunity for all involved, utilizing an increasingly popular format to deliver a first-hand experience of how a student might see such an assignment. And administrators can get in on the fun, too. Aside from simply encouraging its use, administrators' active participation in a project slice can give them a better sense of educators' time commitments in developing and assessing PBL lessons, as well as the classroom-specific challenges they must consider when doing so.
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