When you hear the word “project”, it likely conjures images of meltdowns at your kitchen table as your child frantically glues pictures of a lima bean to a poster board. Science and social studies fair projects can sometimes feel like nothing more than your child going through the motions of cutting and pasting without truly learning anything. However, project-based learning is a much different process.
What is Project-based Learning?
Project-based learning, or PBL, is cross-curricular learning strategy that focuses on the learning opportunities present during the process of moving from a “Driving Question” to answer and is supported by research. While the final product is taken into account and is certainly important, the journey to that final product is where the learning happens and is the most important part of PBL.
In most cases, students (with guidance from their teachers) create a question, a Driving Question” that both engages student attention and focuses efforts. The question is related to the content they’re learning / discovering and then pursue the answer. The projects that students complete will include reading, writing, research, and communication, and often even include elements of science, history, or math. Your student will learn by doing and through exploration.
The Benefits of PBL
Since project-based learning is student led and focused on answering a question, the journey to an answer provides students with so many opportunities to engage in learning. With some guidance from their teacher, students will follow their own path to an answer through research that culminates in a final product showcasing their work. All of this is accomplished while using and learning 21st Century Skills” those taught and assessed in the project.
One of the benefits of PBL is that students either work towards solving a problem or create a finished work product that allows them to see a physical representation of everything they’ve learned and accomplished. They’ll learn to ask questions and pursue answers over the course of a long-term project versus the normal short term assignments that students typically experience each day. These extended projects require collaboration and a deeper level of thought while incorporating a variety of disciplines. Students will have the opportunity to produce multiple drafts and create a finished project that is the best reflection of their abilities. Sometimes they even get the opportunity to contact experts and see how their project connects to real life. Marketing research and development, product development, advertising and presentation skills are also essentials to PBL.
The inclusion of project-based learning is something that we strongly believe in at St. Barnabas Episcopal School. We seek to provide our students with every opportunity to challenge themselves and grow academically and spiritually. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a tour.