In many classrooms around the country it is all too common for one to observe antiquated methods of instruction. Perhaps, this is a result of lack of knowledge or lack of motivation on the instructor’s part. It is difficult to pinpoint why drill and test methods tend to be the “go to” type of instruction used in the current classrooms around the country. Contrary to contemporary classrooms, Project Based Learning is a teaching method which promotes the retention of knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge. There are many types of learners in a classroom and one shouldn’t assume that PBL is the ultimate form of instruction, but it is a tool for educators to consider when designing instruction. PBL allows teachers the opportunity to step outside of the, typical text book type of instruction that he or she grew up with in their educational journey. In order to shed light on some of the Essential Elements of PBL I have listed them below:
- Significant Content – At its core, the project is focused on teaching students important knowledge and skills, derived from standards and key concepts at the heart of academic subjects.
- 21st century learners – Students build competencies valuable for today’s world, such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity/innovation, which are explicitly taught and assessed.
- In-Depth Inquiry – Students are engaged in an extended, rigorous process of asking questions, using resources, and developing answers.
- Driving Question – Project work is focused by an open-ended question that students understand and find intriguing, which captures their task or frames their exploration.
- Need to Know – Students comprehend the need to gain knowledge, understand concepts, and apply skills in order to answer the Driving Question and create project products, beginning with an Entry Event that generates interest and curiosity.
- Voice and Choice – Students are allowed to make some choices about the products to be created, how they work, and how they use their time, guided by the teacher and depending on age level and PBL experience.
- Critique and Revision – The project includes processes for students to give and receive feedback on the quality of their work, leading them to make revisions or conduct further inquiry.
Public Audience – Students present their work to other people, beyond the confines of their school.