Getting started with PBL requires teachers to make a fundamental shift in how they view their role as leaders and curriculum planners. There is much to learn about PBL and there are tons of resources available, many of which are linked in this newsletter.
Before jumping in, we suggest that teachers research PBL, including the goals and design elements associated with it. You can also review projects that other teachers have completed and shared online. This stage of implementation can take as long as necessary to gain a clear understanding of the components of a project.
Once you have an initial understanding of PBL (you may not fully understand all aspects until you have a few projects under your belt!), reflect on how you currently manage your classroom and curriculum planning. Identify how your current practices align with PBL, the practices that would need to be tweaked, and the practices that you will ultimately need to let go of. Sit with that for a bit and seek support from colleagues who have more experience with PBL to help you make necessary adjustments.
While you are researching, make note of potential project ideas here that may be interesting to the children in your care. Also, listen to the children – they will tell you what they want to learn about. See if you might be able to design a project around their interests.
When the time is right, introduce the idea of doing a project with the children. To start, you can limit PBL to afternoons, if you are uncomfortable letting go of all of the traditional planning that you are used to. During that time, allow children to take over some of the planning and curriculum design.
Remember, projects rarely fit into a neat Monday-Friday schedule. Many will extend across several weeks. At the same time, some might only last 2-3 days if children are able to answer the questions they have. Remain flexible and alert to the cues children give you as they explore and engage with the content.
Continue to reflect on what is working and what can be improved upon. Make adjustments and talk to the children about how things can work better or differently. Continue to research PBL or seek professional development opportunities related to PBL. This month, CCEI’s free trial course for new students is called CUR118: Outdoor STEAM Activities and Project Based Learning. Consider signing up today.
If we want children to be life-long learners, we need to model that practice ourselves.
Ready to get started? Download a copy of The PBL Journey: A Guide for Teachers here.
For the main article Project-Based Learning, CLICK HERE
For the article Elements of Project-Based Learning, CLICK HERE
For the article Benefits of Project-Based Learning, CLICK HERE
For the article Director’s Corner – Supporting Project-Based Learning, CLICK HERE