Recently, I toured Leesville Elementary for another article’s research. Mrs.Tucci, our tour guide and LES’s physical education teacher, steered us through the K-5 hallways, proudly showing off the students work and achievements. The tour — and sharing stories with Mrs.Tucci and Dan — reminded me of how awesome elementary school learning was.
Thinking back to elementary school, we focused on learning in different and interesting ways. This, I’ve come to learn, is called project-based learning.
According to pbl-online.org, project based learning is defined as: “…an instructional approach built upon authentic learning activities that engage student interest and motivation,”. Project based learning creates a world-driven problem for the students to solve with the skills they’re learning in class.
I’m not entirely sure why this isn’t implemented in more classes in middle and high schools; project-based learning can be seen more in elementary schools. Elementary students are more interested in school because information comes in different ways everyday and is easily adaptable to their lives. One day, students are creating floor plans for their dream home which incorporates math and creativity; the next, students are creating board games to learn vocab words.
High schoolers should have the same enthusiasm for learning that elementary students do — but they don’t. High schoolers find school drag and boring, which creates apathy for learning. If we adapted project-based learning to Leesville — or any high school — there may be more exuberance for knowledge.
This kind of learning can be called childish and maybe not the be adaptable to every high school subject, but project-based learning can help students learn in a different way than lecturing can. According to greatschools.org, “Projects help students learn how to work independently and discover the answers to their own questions. By also learning to complete projects in teams, students gain communication and leadership skills that they can adapt to the real world. Finally, supporters say, the knowledge students gain from solving advanced mathematics and science problems will help them develop 21st century skills to work in a global economy,”.
Now, I don’t necessarily mean that everyday in Biology the students must do coloring assignments. But doing hands on projects where students make things out of clay or do a week-long, in-depth lab creates an environment that is fun and educational.
Project-based learning gives students the responsibility of working in small groups to solve a problem with small amounts of guidance from the instructor. The purpose of project-based learning is to engage students in the active process of creating knowledge, rather than simply treating them as passive receivers.
While these types of projects are often successful, issues may arrive. For project-based learning to be successful, all students must be cooperative and constructive. Each student must participate or the task of the project may not be evenly split between group members. However if the project is interesting for everyone, these problems would not occur.
So what would happen if more high school classes adapted the project based learning system into their curriculum?