Most adults live in a world of projects. Whether the project is for work, home improvement or planning a wedding, adults need to actively solve problems. However, unfortunately, school work, within brick and mortar schools, where students are supposedly working towards their future, have looked more like students sitting at desks memorizing and taking tests than problem solving. As we know, this type of education doesn’t work. If students memorize information for a test, it is typically (not always – but often) gone the day after the test.
Project based learning is an educational approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge. Because of this, Project Based Learning prepares students for academic, personal and career success and readies young people to rise to the challenges of their lives and the world they will inherit.
A Multidisciplinary Approach
Simply put, project-based learning (PBL) is a practice that takes a learning by doing approach wherein students are active participants in their own educational development. When using this mode of learning, you will often find students solving problems, participating in simulations, conducting case studies and designing research projects based on different areas of inquiry. This method of education encourages students to investigate. Strong PBL practices requires a multidisciplinary approach that involves critical thinking, collaboration and communication.
But isn’t this what most homeschooling homes do already? Quite frankly, yes, it is. Many homeschoolers allow our students to take the lead, investigate, research and problem solve. Project-based learning is the “new” word for what many of knew as “hands-on” learning.
Fashion and the “Driving Question”
Education is like fashion. What a minute, because things will change. The colors will change. The style will change; however, honestly, you will still be covering your body with material of some sort.
So, here we are with a new “popular” term: project-based learning. What does it mean exactly? Simply put, PBL is where you take a problem to be solved, which is often referred to as the driving question. Student use prior knowledge and then, brainstorm different ways to solve the problem. Then, they conduct inquiry and investigations. And finally, give some sort of presentation and feedback. The biggest difference is that PBL should be geared towards “real world problems.”
Sounds ideal, right? In the 1970s, Jean Piaget first supported this type of teaching (and learning); however, educators have been slow to fully take on this approach. Why you might ask? Quite honestly, it is hard to implement in a classroom with twenty-five students where there are standardized tests, common core and that teachers jobs on the line if there students don’t reach a certain benchmark.
Natural Education and Active Learning
But – wait – we are educating our kids at home! Yes, that means we have an advantage. We can put aside some subject and not worry about bells ringing…. and allow our children (and maybe even their friends) delve deep into the process to come out with a fabulous way to solve problems. At home, you can easily do this. Give your children a problem, put them on a path with resources, allow them to come up with various solutions. It is very likely you have been using PBL this entire time without realizing it. It is called natural education.
The reason I decided to write this blog, which is quite different from other blogs that OTA writes is because PBL is making headway in universities because more and more school are realizing it works. Project based learning is a term that you should be familiar with as your district, supervising teacher, homeschooling plan etc. might mention it ….. It is very likely PBL is happening within your home without you even knowing the term…. And your students have been doing this in various coops, homeschooling classes, OTA classes and more!
At its core, PBL is a practice that takes a learning-by-doing approach wherein students are active participants in their own educational development. Simply put, it is active learning.
Eva Goldstein-Meola, is not only co-founder of Open Tent Academy, but an instructor as well as a former homeschooling mother. She has lived in New Jersey, Florida, Western Massachusetts, Northern Virginia and now resides just outside of Jerusalem. Eva holds a Master’s Degree as a Consulting Teacher of Reading and Writing, IEW certification and a Bachelor’s Degree as an Elementary Teacher. She has also been involved in education since 1986 as a Private Tutor, Teacher, Reading Specialist, Homeschooling Mother, Homeschooling Teacher and Business Owner of an Online Education Consortium.
In addition to teaching, Eva enjoys cooking, baking, playing Settlers of Catan, traveling with her husband Jonathan, Broadway Musicals and reading. Eva teaches a variety of literature and IEW writing courses for Open Tent Academy.