When teachers release the reins of curriculum planning by incorporating PBL, they are actively engaging students in planning what they will learn about. When children are actively engaged, much learning occurs across all areas of development. Here are just a few benefits of using PBL in the classroom:
Interest and engagement: Being excited about learning is like a snowball rolling downhill. PBL ignites children’s motivation and love of learning because they get to explore topics that are naturally interesting to them. You have probably seen the spark in a child’s eyes when they were fully interested and invested in gaining new knowledge or skills. PBL provides children with a level of autonomy and self-direction that traditional lesson planning just cannot do. When teachers allow children to follow their interests or incorporate them into the project in some way, they are ensuring a higher level of engagement than would normally be present. Think back to the previously mentioned example of community helpers. In this project, a teacher could encourage a child who loves trains to explore what it takes to become a train conductor. Even though train conductor usually doesn’t top the list of popular community helpers, a case could be made that they are valuable and helpful members of the community. Expanding the scope of projects to include children’s interests is just one way to promote engagement and excitement about learning.
Incorporates skills across academic domains: Projects naturally incorporate multiple domains of learning. They require children to not only conduct research but to use observation and problem-solving skills. Projects typically result in the presentation of a product or solution to a problem, meaning children must translate what they have learned into something that others can use and understand. Children must use critical thinking skills, creativity, scientific thinking skills, language & literacy, math skills, and motor skills to explore topics and produce their end products. In many cases, projects will also require the use of technology for either research or final product creation, which is a great way to create meaningful screen-time experiences.
Builds social and emotional skills: In addition to the traditionally assessed academic skills, PBL provides children with the chance to strengthen social and emotional skills. Projects are meant to be collaborative learning experiences that help children work with others, solve conflicts, and know when to assert their idea or go along with another child’s idea. Because projects rely on reflection and revision, children will practice perseverance, patience, and decision-making skills. There is also a sense of ownership and pride that accompanies the completion of a project that just does not exist with many teacher-planned, weekly-themed units.
Stronger teacher facilitation skills: Children are not the only ones who benefit from PBL. Teachers will also strengthen their facilitation skills, meaning that they assist students in making their way through the project, rather than planning every step of the way. Of course, children will always need teacher guidance and support, but that role doesn’t take over the learning process in PBL; children continue to have a say in the direction of their learning. Teachers will also build child assessment skills, such as observation and documentation of learning. PBL opens the door for teachers to use creative options and technology tools to capture the learning in the classroom.
Connects the program with the larger community: Because PBL’s goal is to address a real-world question or challenge, children and teachers are automatically engaged with the community outside of the program. The answers to most of the world’s questions are out there and PBL will require you to get out there, too. This level of authenticity and connection is sure to engage young learners’ minds.
For the main article Project-Based Learning, CLICK HERE
For the article Elements of Project-Based Learning, CLICK HERE
For the article Getting Started and Project Ideas, CLICK HERE
For the article Director’s Corner – Supporting Project-Based Learning, CLICK HERE