Project-Based Learning Will Rock Your Classroom

Author:  Jennifer Woollven, Instructional Technology Specialist

If your ultimate goal is to help students become critical thinkers, problem-solvers, excellent communicators and collaborators, project-based learning (PBL) can deliver. After spending four years in a full-time PBL environment, I can’t imagine teaching or learning any other way. Witnessing students take ownership of their learning experience, ask good questions, and take on problem-solving outside of the school walls transformed my idea about what the classroom should look like and what my role should be.

The PBL framework is an authentic learning model. Let me explain: when I want to learn something, like how to quilt or cook a brisket, my learning is driven by a need or desire and by the questions that must be answered in order for me to act on my desire. My research will be driven by the questions: What tools will I need? What materials? What steps should I take? What experts can I turn to for help? I may interview people I know who have experience with these things and I will definitely do Internet searches for sites, images, and videos to help me through the process. In the end I will have created a product and I will have learned a great deal through the process. This is PBL – authentic, inquiry-driven by a need-to-know, and the learner doing and creating.

While it is a natural and intuitive process, preparing to implement and manage PBL takes time, energy and support. Building strong projects that are aligned to standards and engaging for students is an intense process. Teachers need the support of each other, administration, and experts to integrate the framework in a meaningful and sustaining way. Whether you are ready to dive in or just dip a toe, the resources below can help you get started.


Transformation Central Texas STEM Center

Buck Institute

Edutopia resources

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