This past year has been serious action research for our 9th grade team at WSHS. We’ve been working on Project Based Learning type models in our classes for years. It was only about this time last year, though, when we really hit on a vision of a model that could really take us to the next level. Based on the model of High Tech High, among others, we set out to create our curriculum integrating biology, English and history.
It has not been easy; don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise! It has been extremely rewarding, though.
Right now, I really feel like we are beginning to hit our stride with this Project Based Learning model.
One core concept that we’ve learned is that an engaging project must incorporate at least 1 (preferably 2) of the following 3 criteria:
- a significant and relevant (to students) problem for students to investigate and create a solution for;
- a clear role for students to play in a situation or simulation that causes them to think like an expert;
- significant student choice about how to attack a project
To keep student motivation high and “keep the pressure on” (in a good way), a strong project must culminate with a product that is presented to an audience. Preferably this audience would be one that has a reason to care about the results of the project. This part is difficult but we have found that students are much more motivated for an audience than for a grade!
Finally, for true project success, the students must be crafting high quality work that they are proud of. They need lots of opportunities along the way for feedback (self, peer, teacher) and revision.
What are your thoughts?
Have you tinkered with project based learning?
What makes for a great project?