Speaking the Language of Project-Based Learning

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Organize.

With Common Core adoption moving forward in most states, many schools have begun implementing project-based learning (PBL) as a way to meet mandates for deeper learning.

Well-executed PBL—with its emphasis on self-directed learning—is dramatically different from traditional instructional models. PBL requires not only the design and delivery of customized, immersive learning experiences for students, but also a transformation in the way that teachers and students see their roles and responsibilities in the classroom.

Even the language of PBL is different. As you engage your K-12 prospects, it’s important that you understand what makes this learning model unique and the jargon that educators use when talking about it. We cover the basics in this post.

What PBL Educators Wish You Knew

In conventional instruction, projects are often similar to activities: disconnected from one another and created by students at the end of a unit to summarize and reinforce what they have learned.

In PBL, the project itself is the mode of learning. The students drive the inquiry, engage in research and discovery, and collaborate effectively with teammates to deliver the final work product. The teacher provides the initial direction and acts as a facilitator along the way, but steps back from the familiar role of conveyor of knowledge. Every part of the process makes up the project, which may go on for weeks or months.

According to John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller of the Buck Institute for Education (BIE), there are eight essential components of well-designed PBL:

  • Content that Matters

The project includes “significant content

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