Tips for Project-Based Learning

Its time to start gearing up for the upcoming school year; I mean Target already has their back-to-school section set-up so I guess its official. A new year means the opportunity to try and experiment with new things and maybe project-based learning is something you are considering. With my experience at a project-based school and various courses focused on PBL, here are five tips based on my own trials and errors.

Before we get started, here is a review of project-based learning:

  • Project-based learning is when students actively explore real-world problems/challenges to acquire a deeper understanding. 
  • Teachers act as facilitators and guide students through the project process. 
  • Its not a project thrown at the end of unit where students all make similar products from information provided by the teacher
  • For more information:

MAKE IT AUTHENTIC. Projects should be as realistic and authentic as powerful. Whether its a local, national, or global issue, an authentic project will come with an audience that students can present their projects to. As a result, it will increase student engagement and excitement much more. I witnessed this first hand with my Down with the Sickness Project. Unfortunately, I cannot say that every one of my projects is truly authentic and relevant, but I've been working to improve it.

KEEP STUDENTS ACCOUNTABLE. Throughout the project, students must be kept accountable throughout the entire process. As Jon Corippo described, students will take whatever amount of time is given, known as The Suck; if they get five weeks to do a project that should only take two, they will take the whole five weeks without producing higher quality work. Projects should be carefully scaffolded and structured so that time is managed effectively and students are kept accountable.

WORK WITH THE END IN MIND. Its important for you and the students to know what the final product will look like. I've been guilty of starting a project with students when I'm unsure of what the final product will be. As a result, the students and I become easily lost throughout the process and lose focus. After my experience with the Edtechteam Teacher Leader program, I started implementing learning matrixes, which outline the entire structure and expectations of the projects. 

RUBRICS ARE YOUR FRIEND. Rubrics are yet another way for you to fully communicate and outline your expectations to the students. Many times projects are multidimensional with many different skills being assessed. A detailed and thorough rubric will help everyone throughout the process so everyone is successful. Rubistar is one of my favorite resources when building a new rubric.  

FEEDBACK IS CRITICAL. Whether its peer-to-peer or teacher-to-peer, its important for students to get feedback on their projects. This feedback will give students the opportunity to determine what they need revise to improve their project. This is an aspect that I'm working to improve; I've done feedback through Google Forms and Google Documents, but sometimes the feedback is either not given or is not helpful. It is vital for students to get feedback on their work, but I'm still working on the best way to do this.


Popular posts from this blog

What I Learned From Traveling Internationally With Students

WWI Trenches in the Classroom

Solving October Stress: #FallCUE