After having read the article Seven Essentials for Project Based Learning and watching the video Project-Based Learning for Teachers, I can say that much can be taken away from how these teachers instituted project-based learning (PBL). The main purpose of the article was of course to familiarize the readers with the essential characteristics of PBL, which are stated as follows:
1. A Need to Know: The students need to be engaged from the start, possibly with an "entry event" such as a video or guest speaker. This beginning needs to arouse the students' thirst for knowledge pertaining to the project.
2. A Driving Question: This is where the motive or objective of the project needs to be stated in a clear and concise manner.
3. Student Voice and Choice: A PBL lesson should allow the students creative license in their learning process, and it is the job of the instructor to construct a lesson that affords the students this freedom without sacrifice to the validity of the lesson.
4. 21st Century Skills: The project should cause the students to develop and become further familiar with skill sets that they will benefit from in the future, such as communication, collaboration, familiarity with technology, public speaking, etc.
5. Inquiry and Innovation: The students should be allowed to perform meaningful research in order to fully answer their driving question. This will no doubt lead to other questions being raised during the process however and should be encouraged. A student will be more involved if they feel that their work is meaningful.
6. Feedback and Revision: During this step of PBL, the students will judge each other's work and provide worthwhile feedback that will allow for the fine tuning of the students' work.
7. A Publicly Presented Product: This portion of PBL is important as students will normally take more pride in the work that they produce if it is produced for an audience other than the teacher or the classroom.
Where the article gave an overview of the quintessential PBL layout, the mandatory video listed further specifications of what PBL is as well as what this style of learning can accomplish. The video also listed examples of driving questions as well as potential lesson ideas for teachers looking to try PBL.
For my next three informational components, I chose Project-Based Learning and Physical Education, PBL - High School Math, and What Motivates Students?. The first was an interesting blog article that gave an example PBL lesson plan dealing with physical education in which the students created a physical education program for middle school students. The article detailed their process through all seven of the PBL characteristics as well as the probable results during each of the steps. The second was a video, which I thoroughly enjoyed, gave an in depth look at the application of PBL in both math and language arts. Both of these subjects are usually considered too difficult to apply PBL learning to and for this reason are normally left alone. The final video dealt with the application of rewards to children in the 21st century. As could be clearly seen in the video, the days of candy as a viable reward are behind us, but it appears that the age old method of positive feedback on a job well done is still quite effective. Also, inventive rewards such as walks outside and something as simple as an interesting fact can be used effectively as incentives.
All in all, I would say that the main idea taken away from all of these videos is that PBL can be applied to any subject if one were to try hard enough. For example, I believe that their solution to the application of PBL to both language arts and mathematics was quite elegant and interesting.
In honor of PBL's ability to breed learners that think outside and beyond the box, I have posted a picture of an 18th century painting titled Theseus Victor of the Minotaur by Charles Edouard Chaise.