Lee Anna Stirling

College/University Professor

Winslow, ME

Interests: 21st century learning,...

  • Posted 6 Months ago
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Quality Project Based Learning - Solving Real-Life Challenges

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In high quality project based learning learners of all ages experience inquiry. Structure and scaffolds are provided. Standards and success proficiencies are met. Students gain a sense of agency because they help to solve real-life challenges.

Here are some challenges learners have worked to solve:

To contribute to downtown revitalization efforts, students conducted a study of their town, reading primary sources and interviewing town officials and citizens. They created videos highlighting their town’s points of interest, which were presented on their district’s website; and with podcasts they created a walking tour of downtown.

Learners wanted to create a classroom of respect and kindness. They listened to and read stories about treating others well. They read a newspaper article about a woman who was bullied, they invited her to their class, and interviewed her with questions they readied and follow-up questions. Based on their research the students constructed booklets about respect and kindness for their class community and created a classroom list of actions to take. They presented their booklets and list to their school principal and parents.

Students in the role of medical interns worked to help diagnose a real patient’s illness. They studied body systems, using Skype they learned from a doctor, interviewed the patient, and presented their findings and conclusions to an audience that included the patient and the doctor.

A school’s courtyard was to be re-designed and students helped by contributing plans for the new design. They interviewed architects and researched parks and other schools’ outdoor spaces. Using math and design principles, they created sketches, scaled drawings, and three dimensional models, which were exhibited to an audience that included the architects who would be planning the school’s new space.

Role-playing American colonists, students created plans for a thriving colony. Learners read about features of successful colonies. They interviewed a colonial history museum  educator. They viewed videos of colonial life. They presented their findings on a website and to a live audience that included the museum educator and parents/guardians.

With high quality project based learning, students experience deeper learning - they master core academic content, strengthen literacy skills, and persevere. They use critical thinking, communications, creativity, and collaboration. They develop a sense of agency, realizing that – YES – they can be a positive force in the world. They become capable of applying learning to new situations.

What project based learning have you planned for your students - or would you like to plan? What questions do you have about planning and implementing high quality project based learning?

You are invited to post your comments and questions.

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