Using Project-Based Learning to Push Students’ Thinking and Understanding

By Laura Shanteler

Getting back into the swing of things after winter break can be tough, but it’s also a new fresh start for your and your students! Now that the hustle of the first half of the school year is over, you might be looking for new ways to engage your students in the material they are learning as well as provide opportunities for them to creatively think about what they’re doing. Common Core has a newly revived focus on students forming their own ideas and opinions and explaining their reasoning behind their thinking. Project based learning can stimulate these types of conversations for your students. Projects give students the opportunity to explore what they’re learning and apply the skills you’ve taught them already. They might come up with a new way to look at a math problem involving area based on a model-building project you did. Students in a reading or writing class may learn about a current issue in their community through research and investigations. They work to form their own opinions on the issues based on the facts they’ve learned and support their position, maybe even offer up solutions by writing in to the city council with their ideas. Project-Based learning can become it’s own independent part of your class, it doesn’t mean you have to give up what you’re already doing! Projects give students a different perspective on learning and show them the usefulness (practical application) of what you teach them. It also gives them a different view of school in many cases, because they are exploring in their learning, not just copying down notes or taking tests (obviously that’s not the case, but I know that’s what my students felt my classes were like sometimes!).

To get you started, I’ve compiled a list of some different blog posts I’ve come across recently. They give in-depth explanations of project-based learning, provide examples of ones that worked in classrooms, and give you tips on how to develop your own project-based learning units that align with what you’re looking to do!

Developing Questioning and Critical Thinking Skills

20 Project Ideas

Project Ideas with links to awesome resources to help with Project-Based Learning

As always, we love to hear your ideas regarding our blog topics, as well as any questions you might have! If you want to start your own project-based learning unit and aren’t sure of where to start, let us know and we can work together to get it going with you! :)

 

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