What Can Teachers and Students Learn From Project Based Learning?
Projects should be meaningful in two different ways. First, it must be meaningful to the student, and second it must serve an educational purpose. It is the teachers job to motivate the students, and promote active learning. However, when given a packet of work, students are instantly turned-off and unmotivated to complete the "busy work". This is why it is important to have a entry event. This could be a video, a guest speaker, or a field trip. The entry event sets up the lesson, and sparks an interest in the students. After the entry event, start a class discussion to get the ideas flowing. By doing this students can develop a driving question. The question should be open ended and complex, to really get the students thinking. A driving question can be seen as the thesis of a project, and it gives the student meaning and purpose behind the project.
Projects should give students the opportunity to learn 21st century skills. This means the student is using collaboration, critical thinking, and technology. Students also find projects more meaningful when they conduct real inquiry. Students should then critique other students work. This shows students that first attempts are not high-quality products. Students should then pass on the knowledge they know by going over their project in front of an audience. This allows students to reflect on what they have learned.
(I really liked the example project they used, especially since I will be teaching high school science. I might use this project one day!)
What Motivates Students Today?
In this video students are asked what motivates them in school. The first student said that he is most motivated by a teacher telling him he did well. He said he would possibly like it announced to the class. I can empathize with him, because I had a few teachers that did this at my high school. The teacher would announce the students name that got an A on their test. This made everyone want to get an A. However, it might have also been out of embarrassment that students would know that they made less than an A. The next few students said they were motivated by their future. They just want to be successful, so that makes them strive their hardest to do well. The students where then asked what rewards work. One student said that she was motivated by candy and a little extra freedoms in the classroom. She said her teacher lets students that do well do their work outside. Other students said teachers motivating them and food.
This is a great site. It has ten sites that can enhance project based learning in the classroom.
Two Students Solve the Case of the Watery Ketchup
Two high school seniors developed a solution to the watery first squirt of ketchup without having to shake the bottle. The students developed the cap as a class project. The teacher told the students to solve a problem that bugs them. The students started out by doing a lot of research on the problem. The students researched patents to make sure that something like this did not exist. They decided to go with a mushroom shaped cap based on the pythagorean cup idea. The students are now selling their invention.
This video is a short, effective explanation of Project Based Learning, and everything you need to know to effectively use it in the classroom.
Project based learning gets students involved and interest in learning. The projects are relative while serving an education purpose as well. The teacher should start the project off with an event entry to spark the students learning. Then it should be followed up by a class discussion to get ideas circulating. The students should be using 21st century skills to solve the problem of their project. The students should then be given time to reflect on their learning, by explaining it to an audience.
The video about the two students and the ketchup bottle was a great example of effective project based learning. These students came up with a problem, developed a solution, and are now selling their product. Project based learning pushes students to do their best, and to become extremely engaged in whatever project they are working on.