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Teaching with Project-Based Learning Projects

written by: Suzanne Florin•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 2/7/2013

Project based learning shifts the focus from the teacher to the students. In this approach, the students are tasked to come up with concrete products of what they have learned about a topic. This encourages authentic learning is initiated and made possible by the students themselves.

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    A Guide for Creating Projects

    As the name suggests, project based instruction in high school is successful when authentic and concrete projects are made by the students. These projects resulted from the driving questions that the students themselves formulate and intended to investigate. In this particular method, the teachers provide the students with the basic concepts and skills which will serve as their guide in undertaking a task. A well-known variation of this model is the webquest. Here are some features of project based learning:

    1. Results from a driving question that motivates the students to research, study, and experiment.

    2. Allows the students to practice 21st century skills (digital age literacy, inventive thinking - intellectual capital, interactive communication - social and personal skills, state-of-the-art results).

    3. Collaborative learning among students.

    4. Higher order thinking skills.

    5. Students peer critiquing and revising their own works.

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    Steps to Develop a Project

    1. Planning

    Any task or process requires careful planning so that there is ease and organization in going through the process. An outline for project based instruction is therefore necessary for success.

    2. Formulating a Question

    A driving question serves as the reason for the study. Students should come up with authentic questions that might have resulted from a current social situation or issue. The question must always come before the project itself.

    3. Planning the Assessment

    The criteria on how the students' work will be graded or assessed, as well as the expectations or standards in the project must be made clear so that there is guidance on how the task will be carried out. The students must be aware of the scope of their study and how their work will be evaluated.

    4. Preparing the Project

    The next step is the planning of the project - the activities that they will carry out, the time allotted for the task and the resources that will be needed in the process.

    5. Facilitating the Process

    The teacher leaves the spotlight by staying on the sideline, that is, merely facilitating the task instead of feeding the students with everything that must be done.

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    Getting Ready for the Project

    Here is a sample outline suitable for high school instruction:

    Project Title: Growth and Decline

    Summary : Understand how the increase and decrease in population affects the economy and development of a country

    Description: The students are going to make a case study on two countries - one whose population is constantly increasing, and one whose population is constantly decreasing. They will then analyze the statistics on the following items: 1) the GNP (Gross National Product); 2) Industries; 3) Unemployment Rate; 4) Public Debt; 5) Exported Products. Then, they have to study the trend and issues associated with the increase or decrease in population, and how those are related to the statistics looked into.

    The participants in this study are expected to study and analyze all the items relevant to the topics. They also have to find out about their own country's standing in terms of its economy and population. The goal is to understand how any aspect that takes place in a country affects it in its entirety.

    Outcomes: The students may present the product of their study in a PowerPoint presentation (with charts, tables and graphs), blog, video presentation, wiki, or by making a website about their research.

    Assessment: The students are assessed based on the following criteria:

    1. Depth of research

    2. Sufficiency of data gathered

    3. Explicitness of analysis

    4. Quality of final presentation

    Suggested Materials:

    PowerPoint, Movie Maker (and other video making software), relevant websites to search in gathering data

    Creativity and Ideas:

    • Presenting an authentic interview with some nationals of the countries used in the study
    • Coming up with an exposition of exported and imported products of each country
    • Staging a panel discussion to remedy the economic issues faced by the countries studied
    • Creating a website to share with the public the result of the research made
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    Real life questions will come up, making students that are more globally-aware and educated about pressing situations in the world today. Be prepared to answer questions and navigate discussion on tough issues.