A year ago I would have defined Project-based learning (PBL) as fun projects kids do at the end of the year when all testing is done. I would have also automatically thought of the mission building project in California. You know, the kit you can purchase at Michael’s or online here.
I was fortunate to attend a PBL conference in palm springs, CA this past February and had the honor of learning what true PBL is and is not from the famous @andredaughty . according to Buck institute for Education, PBL is;
“Students work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing a public product or presentation for a real audience”.
Lets look back at the California mission project. What public product do students present? The mission. What happens after the presentation to the mission? More than likely it is tossed, or shall I say, circular filed. Are California missions a real world problem that students are interested in solving? If your students are like my 4th and 5th graders, they would say- NO! Now enough of the bashing of the CA mission project. I get it. For you folks that fondly remember the mission project, this can still be a valid way of teaching California history. But what if we could do it better?
What if we challenge our students with a hypothetical problem that needs to be solved? Lets say your town- we’ll call it Mission Town, CA, wants to build the 22nd mission. They need you (the students) to research past missions to inform how it will be built and what it will be made of. Students will create blueprints, call on city officials to ensure the building will be up to code, decide where the building will be based on current facts about the town, calculate costs, write a report or blog about their process. The ideas are endless. PBL is also about choice. Giving students voice and choice is important in the project process, especially how they present their learning.
Want to find out more? Check out Buck Institute for Education
Thanks for reading! Coming soon- My own success story with PBL.