What is Project-Based Learning?
Project-based learning (PBL) activities present an engaging question, task, or problem that students then explore through authentic, real-world experiences. The goal is to teach students academic content while they are working in small, collaborative teams. Many PBL activities can also be designed to support community service programs that align to a school’s curricular content. Other projects can be set up in such a way that they focus on identified classroom or school needs.
How Can I Ensure Student Success With Project-Based Learning?
The following components should be embedded into PBL projects:
- Real-world problems that require background information research
- Choices about content so that students are required to demonstrate their understanding of the project in meaningful ways
- A driving question with clearly defined objectives
- Small group collaboration
- Feedback from key stakeholders
- Additional inquiry required for problem solving
- Student engagement and reflection
- An action plan that includes timelines and achievable goals
- A publicly presented project with solutions
- Teachers and students sharing control and decision-making
Students are more likely to be successful when their PBL goals are attainable, the steps in learning are realistic, and the outcomes are measurable. Students can self-assess as they work by using learning trackers, completing program development templates, collecting feedback, and capturing reflections.
What Are Some Examples of Project-Based Learning Experiences?
Here are some opportunities that were identified at various school sites:
- Elementary students created a grant application to secure funding for a PBL community service field trip.
- Students designed and built a cart that could move scenery on stage for school plays.
- Middle school students developed a new computer application for tracking the use of machines in the fabrication lab.
- High school students organized a college awareness day for families and businesses. Objectives included leveraging college scholarship funds and increasing community support for students during their first year in college.
How Can Students Secure Funding for Project-Based Learning Experiences?
Students can apply for grants to fund their PBL project activities by preparing grant proposals. For example, the students and their teacher could draft a grant proposal to leverage PTA funding for a field trip aligned with their grade level common core standards. The template below is a sample that can be used when requesting grant funding for a field trip that supports a PBL experience.
Sample Grant Proposal for a Field Trip that
Supports a Project-Based Learning Activity
Name of Activity: _____________________________ Date: ____________________
|Project Description, Timeline, and Evaluation:
|Budget Narrative: What are the expenses needed to fund this trip?
When students own their learning outcomes and are fully engaged, they attain a high level of mastery with academic content. Share with us your students’ successes in obtaining funds to support their PBL experiences and community service projects!