Eight Elements of Project Based Learning**
• Significant Content – It is the delivery and student understanding of content that is so important. Not just the “What and Why”… but also the “Apply and How”. While students will need to demonstrate content knowledge, the Common Core and new science standards suggest understanding and real world application of content. Please read an article I have titled 10 Way To Ensure Significant Content in this past post at 21centuryedtech.
• Twenty First Century Skills – It is important these competencies are both incorporated and assessed in the classroom.. These skills really are not taught, but are integrated as part of the PBL process. Sometimes referred to as the 4 C’s, (Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity) they are essential in allowing students entering the work force.
• In Depth Inquiry – This is so important, but is often one of the hardest concepts to promote. In short blocks of times, kept inside individual classrooms, students are often given pre-loaded questions that are “Google-able”. In depth inquiry is a convergent/divergent process that brings about new questions from prior questions. This allows student learning to spiral into areas of higher cognition.
• The Driving Question – The Driving Question is at the heart of PBL. It is not a restatement of an Essential Question”, but instead drives learning and inquiry with a student “Need to Know”. The world needs inquisitive minds ready to investigate our future potential and possibilities. Please read an article I have dedicated to Driving Questions in this past post at 21centuryedtech.
• A Need to Know – As stated in the Driving Question, this “Need to Know” is the sense of engagement that is essential to student learning. It answers the question, “Why do we need to learn this?”, as it uncovers the standards. The Common Core curriculum is built on processing that includes a “Need to Know”, and PBL allows for an authentic action plan based on knowledge that is uncovered.
• Voice and Choice – Students must have a voice and choice in their learning. This does not always mandate a choice on content, since this is often predetermined. It does allow for a voice and choice in method of learning, product outcomes , and an audience.
• Revision and Reflection – This is the foundation for building rigor which seems to be such an important concept in today’s educational setting. Revision and reflection promotes a practice of quality. It allows the entire learning community to participate including community mentors, educators, and student peers. Educators must facilitate formative learning experiences that are a part of revision and reflection.
• Public Audience – It is important that student’s work go beyond the class bulletin board, the home refrigerator, and the teacher grade book. Engagement and rigor will increase as students are given an audience beyond their school and classroom.
In conclusion, along with these Eight Elements, it is important to note that PBL requires the teacher to scaffold the learning in a way the allows the content standards to be taught through the project.Last, while technology is not required it can be used to amplify the attributes of these important elements. It truly is these Eight Essential Elements that allow PBL to put students at the center of their learning.