Thom Markham, a noted educational expert on project-based learning (PBL), has written that the shift to the Common Core can be accomplished with a “well-designed problem solving methodology that moves students through an inquiry process, during which they develop the skills necessary to analyze information and answer open-ended questions.” This process will help achieve the Common Core goals of collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.
Although many educators have experience in doing projects with their students, PBL is a more comprehensive approach to learning that does not include a pre-determined outcome. Although the teacher designs, manages, and assesses the projects, teachers and students work together to reach the natural outcomes of the inquiry process.
Markham observes that using PBL means that learning units will now begin with a question rather than the delivery of information. The question forms the framework for the investigation as students use inquiry, collaboration, creativity, and communication to solve each significant question or challenge.
“Learning units will now begin with a question rather than the delivery of information”
The Buck Institute of Education notes that the while PBL allows “for some degree of student ‘voice and choice,’ rigorous projects are carefully planned, managed, and assessed to help students learn key academic content, practice 21st Century Skills (such as collaboration, communication & critical thinking), and create high-quality, authentic products and presentations.” The opportunity to make choices during the inquiry creates a higher level of student engagement.
PBL becomes the method by which students collaborate in learning how to discover information and apply their knowledge and skills. The teacher’s role in this process is to coach students and help them learn how to work effectively as a team. This process mirrors real world work teams therefore preparing students for college and careers more effectively.
www.bie.org is a wonderful source for PBL information, research, videos, webinars, blogs, best practices and general encouragement. You’ll find lots of freebies to download and use to design, assess, and manage your own classroom projects.
Califone has many products that support PBL and encourage collaboration including tablets, headphones, headsets, microphones, podcast tools, listening systems, document cameras, projectors and other presentation tools.
Read other Califone blogs about Common Core State Standards