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Educator Describes Implementing Project-Based Learning

Educator Describes Implementing Project-Based Learning

One educator finds that project-based learning enhances all parts of the curriculum by taking a "hands-on approach to learning" and gives tips on to how to increase PBL in the classroom.

According to Ashleigh Schultz, an educator of 13 years, she starts project-based learning projects by setting some guidelines at the beginning and than "letting students take control."

By doing this, she says it ends up with a lot of small group efforts with about 20 percent of students' respective time spent individualized. She gives an example of a unit she did on inventions where the only big rule she gave was that students had to develop inventions that had not been developed yet.

"My students wanted to make their own inventions, but they weren’t working in isolation—most of it was teamwork...A lot of the time they were asking for feedback: 'Hey, I can’t get this to work. Can you help me?' 'What do you think about this?' It’s a loud classroom, but it’s work being done whenever you come in," she said in an article on ESchoolNews.com.

To give students the most freedom while working in groups while still monitoring their learning, Schultz recommends using a tool called FlexCat. FlexCat is an audio system that is specifically designed for group learning. According to its site, "With it ... teachers are able to monitor from a different location and without students knowing, they are able to get a quick and more accurate assessment of which students understand, interact and contribute." 

"I can press a button and listen to what each group is doing at any given time without them ever knowing I’m listening. It’s two-way communication, or I can just eavesdrop. It feels more like there are six teachers in the room, rather than just me bouncing around from group to group," Schultz said.

Schultz says she uses project-based learning for all subjects in her classroom and finds the results to be overwhelmingly positive throughout. For a project learning about Japan, "[w]e took a close look at the Japanese tea ceremony, and then created our own Japanese tea bowls out of clay molds, which gave them a chance to learn about how strict the ceremonies and rituals are, and try it for themselves," she said, according to the article.

Project-based learning, according to Schultz, is a great way for students to be immersed in their studies and take their learning to the next level. 

"Every day I try to get my students to move beyond that mindset of, 'I’m a student sitting at a desk' to 'I’m an active participant in all areas of the classroom,'" she said.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

04/22/2015

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