In project-based learning, students work over an extended period of time answering a driving question. The question is so deep that it requires students to create a project to share their findings with others.
Process for learning through projects:
PollEverywhere can be used to collect student responses.
The Three Cs from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills:
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Radio WillowWeb podcast for kids, by kids
Make any image into an online jigsaw puzzle at Jigsaw Planet. Try this jigsaw of the definition of project-based learning. iPad users can use the Up in Pieces app to make jigsaws from any saved images.
Projects take an extended period of time to complete.
Activities can be completed in a a matter of a few class periods.
Do you want to cover material for students or do you want them to uncover it for themselves?
Collaboration is the act of working together for a common goal. "Studies have shown that groups outperform individuals on learning tasks, and further that individuals who work in groups do better on later individual assignments as well." -Powerful Learning by Linda Darling-Hammond
"What is it that I am trying to get other to do, and what reasons might they have for doing those things?" - Phillip Schletchy in Working on the Work
Example Driving Questions
- How can we best stop the flu at our school?
- Is it worth the expense to move to an organic diet?
- Which element of the periodic table is most important?
- Should the U.S. use the metric system?
- Which simple machine is most important to you?
- Should government bail out businesses?
- Is it better to buy or lease a car?
- What if Rosa Parks never gave up her seat?
- Design a better lunch menu for your school.
- What if we had a chicken house at our school?
What Makes a Good Vice President video example on YouTube.
Add parameters to the driving question to ensure that standards are met.
What makes a good vice president?
- Include the branch of government the position is part of.
- Include the roles and powers of the position.
- Explain how someone is elected or appointed to the position.
- Include information about at least two people who have held the position.
- Explain the role of the position in Gerald Ford's succession to presidency.
- Include how the office holder is positioned in the line of succession to the presidency.
- Include at least one map, chart, or graph.
- Give the project your personal touch.
Example rubric for What Makes a Good Vice President?
Driving Question Tips
- Where are the standards/content used in the real world?
- Cannot be answered with copy and paste
- Will the result create something new?
- Student voice and choice
- Personal and/or local
- What? What if? Which?
Refine the Question
- Shorten as much as possible.
- Question should appeal to students.
- Make it personal or local.
- Leads to more questions.
- As much room for student voice and choice as possible.
Branching Questions - A driving question should lead to more questions. For example, in Use facts and statistics to convince others to stop your pet peeve, Tony's driving question lead to these questions to drive his investigation about shopping carts:
- How much do door dings raise car insurance premiums?
- Is there a time or day when more carts are left in the lot?
- What is the affect of the distance of the cart return from the vehicle?
- Why don't people return their carts?
- How many parking spots are taken up by left carts.
- Why does Phoenix seem to have a larger problem with returning carts than Omaha?
- What if the cart return was a strip down the middle of each row?
Popplet.com is an online tool and app for making mind maps.
Edutopia has great videos about project-based learning.
Linoit.com provides free canvases for online sticky notes. When you create your own, you can choose to let anyone post stickies. Workshop's Driving Questions Canvases:
Students explore the answers to their questions through books, web, interviews, experiments, and/or data collection.
Tabbed browsing (Control-T) and Find on page (Control-F) can be very helpful when comparing information on different webpages.
Remember that anyone can put anything on the web. Students need to be sleuths and approach their questions as a mystery that other may be trying to cover up. Read more about Google's Page Rank system.
Make learning playlists using MentorMob. Read how other eduactors are using MentorMob (PDF).
Investigation can involve interviews and collecting data. Investigation doesn't have to include internet searches!
Show What You Know Infographic has mobile and web-based tools for sharing information in a variety of whats.
Giving students a choice in how they present their project increases authentic engagement.
- Enunciate clearly
- Speak at a normal volume
- Talk as if you are speaking to a friend
- Prepare & practice
- Record in short portions
- Reduce background noise
Create online posters at Glogster.com.
Create comic strips at Pixton.com.
Use PowerPoint or Keynote to make an Ignite presentation. It is a presentation that is exactly 20 slides with each slides times to automatically advance every 15 seconds, so Ignites are 5 minutes in length. Pecha Kucha is similar to Ignite. Pecha Kucha has 20 slides that are times for 20 seconds each. Read more about these kinds of presentations.
Tony's list of links for images.
Tony Vincent's bookmarks tagged PBL: delicious.com/tonyvincent/pbl
Remember, how you implement project-based learning in your classroom depends on who and what you teach and what tools you have available.