Project Based Learning

What is Project Based Learning, (PBL), really? I ask this because I feel like I know what PBL is, but do I really? To me Project Based Learning (PBL) is teaching multiple standards across multiple strands, driven by a single project and letting the students use creativity and their own strengths, while reaching the goals of the project that I the teacher have put forth. I really love PBL, well the PBL of my definition, but I wonder, am I doing it right? Should I be teaching through projects or more traditional? What will my students really need by the time they exit from school and enter into the real world? Should I do less? Should I do more? I feel like in the world of Common Core Standards, whether you agree with them or not, PBL is a great way to reach all your standards, bringing joy and pleasure back into learning for students and bring the creativity back to the teacher.

So far the PBL’s that I myself have created have been based from a storybook/picture book. I am a kindergarten/First Grade teacher. For me leading with a book has been the simplest way to begin a project. But I think if I were in a higher grade I might choose to begin with a topic in science or social studies. Now that I think about it, I would like to set a goal for myself that before this school year is over to create a PBL through either science or social studies. I love bringing in different subject matter through the standards. So even though I have begun with Reading and comprehension, I bring in, writing assignments, and I love having my students create and construct something. This enables me to bring in math, geometry, and calculations through addition and subtraction problems. I have also, had students grouped up with partners from different grade levels. So far I have done PBL’s at my current school with Kindergarten & Third Grade, and First Grade & 6th Grade. At a previous school I had worked with Kindergarten & Second Grade. I like mixing it up. Though, I usually choose one grade to work with for each year, so that the students can become trusted partners. Since I am usually the teacher that has come up with the PBL, I usually set up my grade level standards, and take a look at the other grades standards, and then sit down with that teacher/teachers to help them create their side of the project. When working with different grades, the project should not be based only on one of the two grades, but equally reach multiple standards in each grade level.

Right now I am working on a school wide PBL that my good friend Kadie @crazy4learning created for our school using the book, The Big Orange Splot, by D. Manus Pinkwater & Daniel Manus Pinkwater. She has given the entire school TK-8th grade a copy of the book but allowed us in each grade level and class to create whatever we want to represent our class in relation to the book. This way we have a project across the entire school! How amazing is that idea?! My class has read the book two times, and we would like to read it again. We are creating individual poems with words describing us individually and our school. Than we are creating through art a representation of us and our school with our poem in the middle of the school. I think it is going to be really cute, and can’t wait to read what my student write.

What are you doing with Project Based Learning in your schools and classrooms?

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