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Fantastic Project-Based Learning Ideas

Learn more about project-based learning (PBL) as it is a great tool for student engagement and 21st-century learning.

Project-based learning is an important teaching method. Students are given a real-world problem to solve that aligns with their subject curriculum/standards. Read the Twitter chat recap below to get some ideas on how other teachers used project-based learning in their classrooms.

Q1: Do you do project-based learning (PBL), genius hour, or 20% time in your classroom? What purpose does it serve?

  • A1: I don’t do 20% time exclusively due to time constraints but I do have my students do a non-fiction assignment that I run as 20% time type project. Find this resource on Shopify CAD or Teachers Pay Teachers USD
  • A1: We do not do PBL as a habit – but I generally do a version of it in the 4th quarter to allow Ss more opportunity to be creative.
  • A1: PBL has been a big portion of my class! I try to do at least on PBL a quarter although it doesn’t always work out. The purpose is real-world audience and authenticity!
  • A1: I’ve toyed around with the idea of PBL, but haven’t actually put it to use yet. Not really sure where to start.
  • A1: I implemented genius hour the last 6 weeks of school as a part of our research unit. The kids loved it, and I learned the value of genius hour as a piece to use throughout the year to support workshop and the application of every skill.
  • A1: I would LOVE to get my team to agree to use PBL as an application of every skill!

Q2: How did you get started with project-based learning and how did you introduce it to students?

  • A2: When I have used it in the past, I called it “Investigation Lab” – I have 200 mini-projects that can be done on any story/book we are reading in class.
  • A2: I would explain that this was their way of showing me what they know about the literature and the standards with examples.
  • A2: Before I start any new assignment I model each section separately. I also try to provide photos or exemplars.
  • A2: My schools work with PBL started with a 1:1 initiative though you don’t need tech for PBL. My first introduction was around creativity, communication, and collaboration.
  • A2 Cont. It was several years ago, but we need a scavenger hunt, the marshmallow challenge, and a seminar to discuss skills.
  • A2: The idea was choice – they could choose various ways to represent their knowledge. They had to earn x number of points per qtr & ea. the project was worth so many points.
  • A2: Actually I loved it and so did the Ss. They had time to be creative and yet still demonstrate an understanding of the literature and the associated standards. I used a rubric to grade.
  • A2: I start with modeling how to brainstorm to create my own driving question. Throughout the process, I lead mini-lessons on how to research, sifting through information, logging information to answer my driving question.

Q3: What project-based learning units have you done or are you interested in doing?

  • A3: I’m not sure if this counts exactly but I did a research project with my 6th graders last year called “Pine Cone Pets”:
  • A3:  I’ve done an unsolved mystery PBL and a PBL focused on defining a hero through the learning of hero’s journey.
  • A3: One of my PBLs was called Alleviating Fears. Freshmen students worked with juniors about their fears related to senior year, and worked on ways to alleviate their fears! It was an awesome PBL!
  • A3: Things like “Make a PowerPoint on a theme from what we have read in class”

Q4: How do you plan final products that are standards-based and rigorous while still engaging for students?

  • A4: I always look at the standards when planning. Start with them first then add in the fun.
  • A4: As times changed, I added in the standards so I would have a whole list devoted to 1 standard and Ss would choose at least 1 project from ea. standard list.
  • A4: I start with the standards then I add everything else! The hardest part is trying to stay problem-based and not project based. I also make sure that I have a rubric that covers the standards.
  • A4: If students understand where they are heading through analysis of the standard, they can choose how to show their knowledge.

Q5: Have you done or plan to do any type of service-learning in your classroom?

  • A5: When I taught in private school, we had “Grandfriends” at the local assisted living. We played Bingo and even threw a 100th B-day party!
  • A5: I think I could do it now in public school – it’s just that they would have to come to us and I’m not sure they would be willing to do that.
  • A5: Service learning ideas
  • A5: Service learning is something I haven’t done… It’s really valuable for students though!
  • A5: It all started with Veterans Day – I wanted Ss to realize how blessed they were. They came away with a new appreciation and immediately wanted to know when we could go back. It was one of the best teaching experiences in my life.
  • A5: After experiencing Harvey in the fall, I thought about starting a service project, but I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate it fast enough. I’d love to try this next year!
  • A5: Yes. We are developing a year-long service-oriented social justice project opportunity for students. They will choose an issue they feel passionately about to focus on and work for change. We are in the planning stages right now.

Other Engaging Lesson Ideas

  1. Engaging Students With Non-Traditional Texts
  2. Use Hyper Docs To Increase Student Engagement
  3. Teaching Media Literacy Skills to 21st Century Students

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