Using project-based learning in the classroom

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As more emphasis is put on the global workplace, teachers are finding ways to prepare students for how to solve real-world issues. 


What is project-based learning?

While there are many ways to lead a classroom, project-based learning is gaining some traction. Project-based learning is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges through hands-on projects and presentations.

The core idea behind project-based learning is that students work on a project over an extended period of time, which could be many weeks or even a semester. The focus is on solving problems, exploring issues or answering complex questions. Students are usually required to show that they have mastered the material by developing a presentation or even a product or mock-up that is presented to an audience.

The benefits of using project-based learning are that students are able to develop a deeper understanding of the topic and have the opportunity to display creativity, critical thinking and communication skills during their presentation.


How do you incorporate project-based learning into the classroom?

The main idea behind project-based learning is to teach students to draw insights from various sources and utilize multiple skills to tackle the assignment. Instead of being taught the concept by the teacher, students are required to ask questions in order to start the project. This helps students incorporate problem-solving into the learning process, forcing them to think critically about the issue rather than simply looking up the answer in a textbook or online.

For the teacher, this means that the project is student-led rather than driven by the teacher’s lectures. In this case it’s better to think of the teacher as more of a project manager than a teacher. Students learn how to think about issues, ask questions and make their own decisions based on the research they’ve done. This helps the students learn how to work independently, take ownership of the project and develop skills that will help them when they are ready to enter the workforce.

For example, a group of students could be tasked with learning how first-responders, such as emergency medical technicians (EMT), perform their jobs and the impact that they have on their community. Instead of reading about what an EMT does, the students could visit the EMT center to see what EMTs do on a daily basis, learn what the dispatcher does and apply what they learned into a presentation. By incorporating a real-world experience into the process, the students feel empowered, their confidence rises and they get a feeling of accomplishment.


How do you incorporate project-based learning into your classroom?

Implementing any new teaching process can be challenging, but the beauty of project-based learning is that it doesn’t dramatically change what the teacher has to do. Here are seven features of Skooler’s Learning Management System that help teachers incorporate project-based learning into the classroom and create a personalized learning experience for their students:

(1)   Develop lesson plans: Using Skooler Planner, teachers can easily outline their lesson plans. Teachers simply write a brief overview of the project, select the number of weeks the project will run, and update as each week concludes. The beauty is that parents are able to see the project outline and help their child manage the entire process.

(2)   Connect with colleagues: Teachers can share their work with their colleagues so that they, in turn, can copy or modify the project for their own class. In Skooler there is a “Conversation” tab which gives the teacher the ability to share information with their colleagues.

(3)   Build presentations: Students can use Microsoft PowerPoint and Sway to develop presentations. Both of these applications are used by businesses, and students who learn how to use them are learning skills that will put them in a better position to be hired by a future employer.

(4)   Provide formative assessments along the way: By collecting information while learning is happening, formative assessments help teachers see where students are in the learning process, quickly identify if students are struggling with a particular subject and adjust their teaching approaches to help students stay on track. This allows the student to see their own progress and improve their work immediately, which improves learning outcomes.

(5)   Solicit feedback and promote interaction: Skooler provides teachers with the ability to poll students about a presentation. This helps measure how much the other students understand the presentation and spurs discussion about the topic.

(6)   Create a collaborative environment: Using Skooler helps students work as a team and requires them to develop the presentation together rather than asking one student to write a report.

(7)   Teaching and reporting in real-time: Using project-based learning as a teaching method allows teachers to monitor and update progress and provide feedback to students in real-time using formative assessments and rubrics. This also gives parents insights into the status of the projects their children are working on.

The power of project-based learning

Teachers are required to juggle multiple projects simultaneously, address individual student needs, attend staff meetings and district training sessions, and provide updates to parents on a regular basis. Using Skooler to manage project-based learning helps teachers stay organized and allows students to learn from their peers and develop skills that are needed to be successful in school and in the workplace.


How do you use project-based learning in your classroom? Please let us know.