Journal Entry #19 – Project Based Learning in the Classroom

Continuing with my I-Search on inquiry based learning I came across a lot of articles about project based learning. I began to wonder how project based learning incorporates inquiry, so I decided to take a look through some of the different articles. After looking at a number of articles, what I have gathered is that most project based learning is focussed on either developing, investigating or responding to a problem, question or challenge. Project based learning is designed to teach “students important knowledge and skills, derived from standards and key concepts at the heart of academic subjects”. Project based learning is usually driven by an “entry event”, open ended question or statement that requires students to develop, investigate and inquire to come to solution or response. Much of project based learning is student driven in that the students are the one’s who are crafting a response or solution – the teacher acts as more of a guide who is there to help when needed.

I thought that this list from the Buck Institute for Education summed up the main components of project based learning nicely:

  • Significant Content – At its core, the project is focused on teaching students important knowledge and skills, derived from standards and key concepts at the heart of academic subjects.
  • 21st century competencies – Students build competencies valuable for today’s world, such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity/innovation, which are explicitly taught and assessed.
  • In-Depth Inquiry – Students are engaged in an extended, rigorous process of asking questions, using resources, and developing answers.
  • Driving Question – Project work is focused by an open-ended question that students understand and find intriguing, which captures their task or frames their exploration.
  • Need to Know – Students see the need to gain knowledge, understand concepts, and apply skills in order to answer the Driving Question and create project products, beginning with an Entry Event that generates interest and curiosity.
  • Voice and Choice – Students are allowed to make some choices about the products to be created, how they work, and how they use their time, guided by the teacher and depending on age level and PBL experience.
  • Critique and Revision – The project includes processes for students to give and receive feedback on the quality of their work, leading them to make revisions or conduct further inquiry.
  • Public Audience – Students present their work to other people, beyond their classmates and teacher.

Taking a look through this list, there is a lot more involved in project based learning than I had considered previously, but I can still see the appeal to carrying out project based learning in the classroom.

I believe that by incorporating project based learning in the classroom all students have a chance to showcase their skills and learn something new. The fact that project based learning is so involved is really appealing to me as well. Each students has the chance to be engaged and involved in what they are learning, rather than sitting passively and taking notes. Another component of project based learning that appeals to me is that students receive feedback on their work as part of the process. I think students are scared of being wrong and that receiving feedback on your work can be intimidating at times – but in this instance any feedback given can be considered and potentially incorporated as part of the project. With project based learning students are also encouraged to share their work within the classroom and outside of the classroom. This idea is very appealing because teaching others is a great way to enforce what you have already learned and will only add another layer of comprehension.

I would imagine that project based learning looks quite different in a primary classroom and a secondary classroom. Project based learning is flexible in that projects can be designed to fit the needs and knowledge of any grade level. An idea for project based learning in a primary classroom could include role playing, art projects and discussion – while in a secondary class project based learning could involve students choosing a theme or idea, conducting research and sharing with their findings with the class in an interesting way.


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