Project Based Learning
Strategies for Teaching Gifted Students in Primary Grades
Project Based Learning Is...
Learning By Doing!! (Mayer, 2012)
- pursuit of inquiry, which results from hands on learning and having to show what you know
- students make choices that determine the outcome and path of their research
- driving questions
- presented in public audience
Essential Guiding Questions for Project Based Learning
2. Does the scenario need to be real or fictitious?
3. Is this relevant to the students' lives?
4. What choices are students able to make?
5. What tools can the students use to create project?
6. Can the students work with a group or individually?
Student Led Environment
- Encourage questions and group work with peers
- Guide with timelines and checkpoints to keep students on task
- Your students should question, research, discover answers, generate new questions, test ideas, and ultimately draw their own conclusions without you handing them the information.
Key Steps of PBL projects (Narkiko, 2012)
1. State standards: State standards are laid out in the rubric, and students should be able to tell you which ones they're covering in any given project. Every project's final assessment requires that students demonstrate their mastery of them.
2. Critical Friends: Both students and teachers participate in a peer review protocol called Critical Friends.
- Before teachers launch a project, they often have a session with colleagues for feedback, especially on the academic rigor of the project.
- Similarly, before their final presentations, students often run Critical Friends to give each other feedback in the form of "I like…" and "I wonder…" statements and suggest next steps for improvement.
3. Entry event: Teachers introduce each project with an entry event that serves several purposes:
- to hook the kids and get them engaged in the content,
- to provide an exemplar of what the teachers expect, and
- to introduce key vocabulary (such as people, events, and terminology) related to the targeted content to get the students thinking about what they'll need to know.
4. "Need-to-know" list: Keywords in the entry event should prompt students to identify new concepts they’ll need to learn and help them make connections to related content they already know. As a class, they agree on a shared list of need-to-knows, which they update individually throughout the project.
5. Rubric: The rubric is an essential tool for maintaining transparency for students. Teachers carefully design rubrics to define all the desired learning outcomes for a project, including which state standards students are expected to master and how performance will be measured for each outcome.
- The rubric sets the standard for each project and is presented at the start so that students have clear goals to work toward.
6. Group contract: Individual accountability is a critical component of successful PBL, and Manor students use group contracts to document expectations for each team member. Each project team writes a contract that clearly defines everyone's roles, responsibilities, and contributions to the project, and students are held to it. Students can be fired if they do not fulfill their part of the contract and must complete the project on their own.
7. Research and collaboration: Once the project is launched, it is up to the students to work together to figure out what their final product is going to be and how they will acquire the knowledge they need to complete it.
- Teachers provide workshops to go over concepts depending on students' needs, and they have students run workshops for each other to reinforce their learning and build collaboration.
- To further the expectation that PBL is just like having a job question slips can be used to encourage students to try and solve problems on their own first.
8. Assessment and adjustment: Throughout the process, teachers and students give and receive feedback and make adjustments accordingly. Teachers track student progress to make sure no student is falling behind. Depending on what they find, they might go back and do more scaffolding, quiz more, or provide additional workshops.
9. Presentations: Public presentations are the common element to all projects and finding an external audience makes the project extra rewarding for students.
- Verbal communication,
- public speaking, and
- other important nonacademic skills are honed in this process
10. Final assessment: Because teachers take pains to observe student progress throughout the process, the final assessments tend to be relatively easy. The work up front on creating a clearly defined rubric that identifies multiple learning outcomes and criteria also helps considerably.
Mariko , N. (2012, May 23). A step-by-step guide to the best projects. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/stw-project-based-learning-best-practices-guide
Mayer, A. (2012, Novemer 28). Project based learning. Retrieved from http://www.friedtechnology.com/
Erikson, L. (2007). Concept-based curriculum and instruction for the thinking classroom. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.