Getting started with Project Based Learning

By | 2017-08-25T20:14:42+00:00 June 30th, 2017|For teachers|0 Comments

Project Based Learning (PBL) is a way to break the old-fashioned paradigm of siloed, instructional classes and instead focus on nurturing cross-curricular collaboration and learning. In a society with an increasing focus on skills, such as creativity and problem solving, using PBL in your classroom can give your students an important head start.

In PBL a cross-curricular project serves as the framework

PBL derives from the American progressive educator, psychologist and philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952), who advocated that students function and learn best when their learning environment allows them to experiment and interact with the curriculum. Dewey also believed that school is a social institution, since learning is a social and interactive process. To this day, Dewey’s work is seen as one of the cornerstones of progressive, modern pedagogy and didactics.

a pyramid made with Strawbees pieces

“Senza titolo” was shared by teacher Chiara Bollattino in Italy. The creation was made using Strawbees (the maker game) and shared in the Strawbees Project Lab gallery on Creatubbles.
Teachers can explore Creatubbles to find engaging project ideas for their own classrooms, join a gallery or collaborate on global projects with schools worldwide.

While numerous variations of PBL exists, such as Problem Based Learning, Team Based Learning and Inquiry Based Learning, the overarching principle is that a project is at the core of the learning process. This means that rather than teaching separate classes with separate goals, a cross-curricular project serves as the framework for all classes. The project is not the goal itself, as it is not simply added at the end of a series of lessons. Rather, the students work with the project throughout all classes.

Step 1: Change your teaching mindset to being a facilitator

Taking a PBL approach does not mean that students are left on their own. Quite the contrary. Nonetheless, the role of an educator is different within PBL than in traditional lessons. In PBL, the teacher works as the facilitator, making sure that students either have access to or know how to find the information needed to work within the project framework. They also help the students work within the groups, growing their social competencies and collaboration skills, all the while assessing what learnings the students take from the project.

Step 2: Set up your first student project

PBL can be structured in different ways, depending on the student’s age and preexisting knowledge. For the youngest of students, PBL might involve a higher amount of teacher-led activities, such as collaborative inspiration and information gathering than with middle-school students.

Creatubbles is a great place to grow student projects. Marco Vigelini’s urban design project  was a way for students to learn about environment, urban planning, maths, design and architecture through exploration and free discovery — all while working in their own preferred tool, Minecraft.

Minecraft urban planning designs of Milan

“Inaugurazione Microsoft e Minecraft: Education Edition” was shared up teacher Marco Vigelini. It is featured in the Milan Urban Design gallery on Creatubbles. The gallery was created to exhibit creations from the Minecraft: Education Edition projects that tasks scholars to share their ideas on future urban planning activities.
Teachers can start their own PBL activities or join an open gallery on Creatubbles.

Why students benefit from project based learning

There are multiple benefits of PBL. Students learn to solve actual problems, and they learn to collaborate with peers to make that happen. PBL offers a context to the curriculum that is often lacking in traditional lessons. This context increases the chance of students actually remembering the skills they required during the project. To compare, we can look at the opposite side of the scale where we find knowledge that’s been memorized for multiple choice tests.  

If you’re ready to challenge yourself and your students with project based learning and share it with the world, why not set up your account with Creatubbles?

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Trine Falbe has been working professionally with Internet-related things since 2001. She is a lecturer, author, speaker and UX researcher specialising in design for children.