What is Project-Based Learning?
Project-Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge.
In a project-based unit, students are engaged in solving a real-world problem that includes a motivating kickoff experience, relevant and inspiring guiding questions, meaningful fieldwork, and a culminating event where students share their projects with an authentic audience. Project-based units run from two weeks to a semester.
All projects explicitly focus on building literacy skills, particularly in reading and writing nonfiction text and writing from evidence.
How do we Support our Project-Based Learning in our Partner Schools?
We support project-based learning through a series of professional learning workshops and direct teacher and team coaching. Schools choose from one or more project-based learning strands which are customized to meet the individual goals of each school.
Our staff work with leadership and teachers to help them implement specific project-based learning practices that prepare students to create meaningful, authentic, standards-aligned projects.
Sample Teacher Learning Targets
- I can design a unit or curriculum that promotes deep learning and engagement and brings the Common Core Standards to life.
- I can design a product rich in authenticity and complexity that will require students to read for and write with evidence.
- I can identify strategies for creating a respectful and supportive culture for critique and feedback.
- I can determine how to support students in sharing their learning with an authentic audience.
- I can design daily lessons that put students at the center of their own learning.
- A needs assessment, including a learning walk and curriculum review
- A “Project-Based Learning 101” professional development sequence to introduce the concept and purpose of project-based learning and the selected focus areas to all staff
- “Core Learning Experiences,” including professional learning workshops around one or more Project-based Learning Strands, individual and group coaching sessions, classroom observations, and leadership meetings
- A half day of staff team building activities
- Half-day planning session for an end-of-year celebration of learning
Project-Based Learning Strands
Designing Project-Based Learning Units and Curricula
- Creating challenging case studies and learning expeditions
- Choosing compelling topics and creating guiding questions
- Backward planning using standards, targets and assessments
Lessons that Support Project-Based Learning
- Creating daily lessons to engage and support students
- Using protocols to create a student-centered classroom
- Designing lessons that allow students to give each other meaningful feedback
Scaffolding for High-Quality Work
- Providing opportunities for students to engage with authentic audiences during final product presentations
- Creating rubrics that support purposeful student learning
- Designing units that result in actionalable work-products and empowering students to take action