Four ways to improve project-based learning in your classroom

When students enter the classroom, project-based learning is probably the last thing on their minds. They're more interested in what they'll be doing that day and who they'll be sitting next to.

But in many effective and engaging classrooms, project-based learning is the first thing on the educators' minds. However, other teachers have yet to discover how project-based learning (PBL) can improve student engagement and create real and lasting learning.

PBL turns traditional classrooms into active, engaging learning spaces for students. It helps build critical thinking skills, improves writing abilities, and raises reading comprehension. It offers a balance of teamwork and individual work where students take responsibility for applying concepts learned throughout the year.

One reason PBL works so well is that it incorporates all four language arts skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. To make project-based learning work in your classroom, keep these ideas in mind:

1. THE PROJECT MUST BE RELEVANT TO STUDENTS

The project must be one that students care about and are interested in. It can't just be another project shoved onto their plates. Choose projects that are relevant to what they're learning in class. When students see the connection between the project and the desired learning outcome, it helps them stay focused and motivated.

2. KEEP THE PROJECT SCOPE IN MIND

Just because a project is interesting to students doesn't mean it must be huge. While large projects can be fun and engaging, smaller PBL projects can also keep students focused on the activities through bite-sized learning.

3. FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT IS KEY

Teachers must assess the project regularly to encourage students to stay engaged and continue working toward their project goals. Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy, authors of Hacking Project Based Learning and Project Based Learning, suggest the Progress Assessment Tool (PAT).

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"The PAT's value is rooted in the conversations and collaboration that take place as the class establishes the tool's content," according to Cooper and Murphy. The PAT is not only an integral part of impactful PBL, but it also encourages students to self-assess, which is crucial to all learning.

4. USE STUDENT RESOURCES

Encourage your students to use books, websites, interviews, and a wide variety of resources when teaching through project-based learning. This practice helps them become independent learners and shows that you trust they know what they're doing. As a teacher, you want to encourage your students to try new things and gain a sense of responsibility for their projects. PBL can help you do that.

 

Project-based learning is a great way to teach students by incorporating twenty-first-century learning skills. By incorporating PBL into your classroom, you'll inspire students to think critically and work as a team. Your students will thank you later!

Post photo by Keira Burton from Pexels
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