“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand” (Chinese proverb). Teachers know from experience that learning is meaningful when students play an active role in their own learning. However, the new reality we now face around the world with online teaching and learning seems, at first, to present new challenges in this regard. One way we can continue to involve students in meaningful learning is through Project-Based Learning. Project-Based Learning (PBL) naturally provides students with opportunities for real-world learning and can also seamlessly combine content learning with service learning. True, it will take some creativity to adapt projects due to school closures and social distancing. Nevertheless, technology makes it possible to work together, access information and implement projects in real time.
In Project-Based Learning, students investigate a real problem at their school, community or beyond. The teacher is a facilitator and collaborates with students to help them gain the information and skills they need for the specific tasks or challenges. Student teams engage in a sustained inquiry process and the creation of a product which is presented to a real, public audience. PBL can be implemented in any classroom and at any grade level.
Here is a brief description of what happens in each PBL phase.
- Introduce: The teacher introduces the driving question (an open-ended task or complex question). Students generate a list of sub questions that will drive the inquiry process. The major product is defined, student teams are formed, and project plans and details are discussed.
- Learn: Students begin to research, build knowledge and develop skills needed for the project. Teacher-directed lessons, scaffolding, and student-led inquiry take place. As further questions arise, students may expand their research and contact experts or organizations.
- Create: Students develop possible solutions to the driving question. Peers, teachers and experts critique final product ideas and drafts. Students make revisions and research more.
- Share: Students present their product and make their work public to an authentic audience, such as the school, churches and community. Remember to share your project results on Adventist Teacher Connect for other teachers to see and become inspired to implement the project in their local context.
- Reflect: After completion, the project is debriefed with students. Students reflect on the experience and evaluate their learning.
How does service learning connect? Project-Based Learning and service learning complement each other as both focus on authentic and meaningful initiatives that impact others. Integrating service learning into PBL gives students the opportunity to apply their learning while meeting real community needs.
As you plan projects that address academic standards, look for ways to integrate service learning, to build empathy and compassion in students. During this unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic, the needs and challenges in our communities are many. As Christians, it is our privilege to help others in times of need. This is a unique opportunity to involve students in service.
Above all, “work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).
For ideas on Project-Based Learning, visit adventistteacherconnect.com.