Across the country there are more and more teachers that are following in the steps of John Dewey and implementing a project based classroom and the project based learning method. These teachers are a group of individuals who have looked at the current state of education and are tired of the “one size fits all” approach or the assembly line nature that some public schools have.
Project based learning offers several benefits of the traditional classroom model.
Working with others is the quickest way to form relationships not only with peers but with teachers as well. The collaboration also teaches students how to work well with others, stressing the importance of:
- Providing input
- Listening to feedback
- Resolving conflict
Collaboration also helps students explore real life situations, jobs and careers they might enjoy in the future.
Project based learning reinforces critical thinking skills and innovation with how to approach a project while thinking about the end product. Students are able to have more freedom in showing their mastery of skills and ideas with project based learning.
Most public school systems and standardized testing rely on rote learning and memorization to measure students’ learning and retention. With project based learning students are able to show their understanding of ideas and concepts in the way they apply them to their projects.
Project based learning harnesses student’s natural curiosity and uses it to fuel their learning. By showing students that they can harness their curiosity to learn and then produce products, project based learning is creating lifelong learners.
How to Move to Project Based Learning
After learning more about project based learning many wonder how they can implement it in the lives of their students (if they are teachers) or for their children (if they are parents). While having a full project based learning classroom can take a lot of time and effort to set up, there are moves you can make to slowly incorporate project based learning. What’s best about this slow approach, is that by adding project based learning slowly into your classroom, you can help the students to adapt to the new way of learning. This helps students to have a successful mindset change and trains them to embrace project based learning.
Learn Through Play
Instead of relying on worksheets to learn geometry concepts such as angles and shapes you can learn through play and real world projects. This could include having students drawing scale models of buildings in their town to practice angles and scale. Another hands-on project would be to use these math techniques to build models of buildings out of popsicles sticks or balsa wood.
Transform Traditional Tasks
Another way to incorporate project based learning is to transform traditional tasks into creative projects, such as middle school book reports. You can take a traditional task and transform it into a real world project. For example you can task students to create a new dust jacket for a book and pitch their idea to a panel of judges. Alternatively, you can ask students to do something that asks them to stretch their imagination and create a play that uses a class book as source material.