Reading this chapter could not have come at a more perfect time. I have just about completed my first PBL, and have been reflecting quite a bit. I have not only been reflecting on the project as a whole, but also on future projects. I thought that reading this chapter guided my thinking very nicely, and really allowed me to examine my own feelings and thoughts of when to implement my next PBL.
I think by now it is obvious as to what the focus of project-based learning should be. I know that major topics in both the courses I teach and in my students’ lives would be starting points for future projects. For my first PBL, I have been working with students who are reading To Kill a Mockingbird. One of the major themes of the novel is innocence, which is the focus of my PBL. The students in this class have been working for almost a month to answer the question of “When do we lose our innocence?” Although I was a little skeptical at first of how successful this project would be (mostly because it primarily revolved around the subject of ELA), it has been going great. The students are really engaged in the project and have been using many resources to find the answer to the driving question. This experience has shown me that project-based learning can occur in any subject area, with the appropriate resources and tools. I know that in the future there virtually is no limit to what my projects can focus on.
I think for me, the biggest question of future PBLs is when to implement them. From my first experience I can see the huge positives on student learning, but I also realize that PBLs can take up a lot of time and planning. This question is hard for me to answer right now because I currently am not teaching. I suppose it all depends on the freedom I have with my curriculum and instructional planning. The behavior and attitude of my students would also affect my decision. From completing this first PBL I have noticed that the students I have been working with are definitely engaged in the project, but some have gotten a little tired. I would need to make sure all of the students are ready to begin another project, and excited to put forth their best effort. Ideally I would like to implement PBLs whenever I have the opportunity to do so.
I definitely do think project-based learning will be a big part of what I do in the classroom. I feel as if so much student learning occurs. Students not only learn new content, but they also learn 21st century skills. With these types of experiences students really will become global citizens. Since I do plan on using PBL in the future, I am happy this book has included the chapter “Useful Stuff.” I have already used some of these tools for planning and managing my first project. In fact, their website also includes more resources that I will continue to reference.
Project Based Learning