I am beyond excited that you get to hear from my friend and technology mentor, Nancy Bingham. Nancy has taught in elementary classrooms for most of her career. She is currently a Technology Integration Specialist in a large district in Texas, supporting teachers and campus administrators. You can follow Nancy at @nancybinghamHEB
Project Based Learning has morphed through the years. Many teachers adapt the concept to fit their classroom needs. As a second grade teacher, we did just that. We knew we wanted our classrooms to be engaging and student-centered, giving the students ownership of their learning. We focused on enhancing 21st century skills while making sure they still mastered the standards. Our goal was to make leaning meaningful to their world. We did not overhaul the curriculum and go completely PBL. We chose 2-3 concepts to focus on and chose an inquiry-based approach.
My second graders created this video completely on their own to showcase how the PBL experience went for them. They scripted exactly what they wanted to say. They edited the video themselves. I was just there to film. I was truly the “guide on the side”, which kept me in the same role I played throughout the process. It was such an exciting experience to see their enthusiasm for sharing what they learned.
What you don’t see from the students’ point of view are the many formative assessments that I conducted to monitor the student’s learning throughout the process. That part didn’t stand out to the kids as important to their learning process, while it was incredibly beneficial to me as the teacher.
While PBL may seem daunting, I highly encourage teachers to give it a try in their classroom. My students were always highly-engaged and I firmly believe their self-directed learning was deeper through this real-world learning.
To find out more about how to get started with PBL, here are some great resources:
John Hattie synthesizes what matters most for learning, he describes an effective classroom in language that is completely consistent with a PBL environment. “Visible teaching and learning occurs when there is deliberate practice aimed at attaining mastery of the goal, when there is feedback given and sought, and when there are active, passionate, and engaging people (teacher, students, peers) participating in the act of learning.”