Project Based Learning

August 12, 2019 Island Teacher

Project Based Learning (PBL) prepares students for academic, personal, and career success, and readies young people to rise to the challenges of their lives and the world they will inherit.  The organisation Edutopia defined it as follows, 

 

Project-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered pedagogy that involves a dynamic classroom approach in which it is believed that students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems.   

A great introduction to Project Based Learning or as it is also known as PBL.

An example of Project Based Learning about the drawdown of British Forces in Germany and the future of Barker Barracks in Paderborn Germany.  This film captures how project based learning could be used with Elementary and Primary aged children.   

 

Primary Geography and Project Based Learning.  

Great Geography has always been about approaches that are essentially pulling together many subject disciplines, as they relate to the matter being studied.  Real issues are seldom ever limited to pure subject categories.  The contemporary and effective way that Geography gives the teacher and student a vehicle to look at issues in a holistic way,  is far more interesting and meaningful to the real world of today’s students.  While subjects help us organise thoughts and structure our knowledge, student schemas of knowledge organisation have moved beyond this tradition of strict subject boundaries. Subjects are not dead, but our students are seeing more and more that learning is connected.  For example, Plant succession in biology helps to understand how vegetation changes when settlements are abandoned. So while it is an aspect of biology, students of geography also draw on this aspect in their understanding of geography.   Seasoned scholars of geography will recognise that the previous statement is neither new or revolutionary.
For younger Geography students in elementary schools, Geography is a vital tool in order to give them a sense of place and how they fit into their locality.  It will also help them appreciate how macro and micro changes in their own localities interplay.  Connecting the impact of big overarching changes allows student to see how the two interplay at a local and regional or global level. The way that children develop locational knowledge is explored in the link below from the Geographical Association. Read more 

The Post Classroom Paradigm 

Students today have unimaginable access to learning outside the traditional sources of knowledge.  Many educators viewed online sources of knowledge with suspicion when they first became readily accessible to the  masses.  There are some issues, but that is also true of all formats of information, be that a book or an online article in a website. This access to knowledge means that the student of the present can pursue their interests with ease.  The more that students know, will hopefully help them to weigh the plausibility of all information that they encounter. Teachers can still help students weigh and consider the truth of what they read.  Using and acknowledging  previous learning allows student and projects to take on more depth and blur the boundaries between formal and informal learning.  Crucially, this approach allows for greater progress.

Challenges of the Post Classroom Paradigm.

If knowledge is power, then our students are potentially able to become more empowered, more easily.  For the teacher, this might mean that knowledge is not learnt so sequentially  in the traditional sense.  It might also mean that they have gleaned wealth from areas that were not even part of their formal curriculum.  It is therefore important to find out what students already know, including their misconceptions and help them build and reflect on their knowledge schema.  

Responding to What Students Know

Great teachers Know their students and the importance of starting with the known, before going into the unknown.  These teachers are able to blend these post classroom  learning nuggets with other requirements.  Skilled teachers have always done that, but now more than ever it is essential to incorporate these new ways of knowing.  Essential, because we should celebrate and acknowledge the extra learningI that the the student brings and its potential possibilities. 

Project Based learning article from Edutopia

Project-Based Learning | Edutopia

Project-based learning is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge.

Further Links

PBL Online – Another PBL site that works as a cooperative effort of BIE, Boise State University, and Edutopia.

4teachers – Home of  age-appropriate, customizable project checklists for written reports, multimedia projects, oral presentations, and science projects.