We all remember doing projects in school.
Sugar cube igloos… celery sticks in colored water … posters … papier mache stuff (why was this a good idea?). The late nights, the frantic last minute trips to the store for poster-board and tooth picks. The tears. The fits. The frustration. And that’s just the parents.
You know what I’m talking about.
As a parent, the word project struck great fear in my heart. The innocent little word project really means PARENT PROJECT. And science fair meant SUPER PARENT PROJECT.
Projects are an after thought, an add on after the kids have done the worksheets, quizzes and tests. Projects look good in the hallways and they impress school boards, but are they a valuable use of class time?
I admit, I’ve assigned a few projects in my day.
Then I discovered PBL, aka Project Based Learning. Let’s define PBL
- the main course not the dessert ( John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller at the Buck Institute for Education 2010)
- driven by essential questions such as how does the length of an airplane’s wings affect its flight; can taller people run faster than shorter people; or how can we help people who are trapped in slavery?
- designed to teach core content
- a learning method that requires collaboration, research, critical thinking and many other higher level thinking skills such as synthesizing, inferencing, analyzing, drawing conclusions, comparing and contrasting.
- the creation of something ( an artifact, method, product, process) as a result of a learning experience
- giving students voice and choice in the learning process
- reflecting and making changes
- publicly implementing, publishing or presenting what was learned or created
PBL is messy, risky and noisy. It requires perseverance, grit and determination. PBL takes time, energy and resources, but the pay-offs are huge.
It makes me wish I could go back to school all over again.
Do you have any project memories from school? Please leave me a comment in the reply section below. I’d love to chat with you!
by Mary Kay Kane
all rights reserved. copyright 2016