I have been a high school experiential educator for over a decade, and my dominant approach has been self-directed project-based learning. Students design and execute their projects from start to finish with my guidance.
I didn't choose personalized project-based learning when I first started teaching. In fact, I didn't even know what it was. But the school where I taught insisted on it, and for good reason. PBL is a deep and powerful learning tool, especially when self-directed.
But it's not perfect. That is the reality.
Last week's post was all about how to assess experiential learning activities, particularly when it comes to project-based learning. Project-based learning rubrics are great for evaluating project-based learning activities as single experiences, but how can students document or share their learning experiences on a deeper and more comprehensive level? What can used as a big-picture project-based learning assessment?
Learning portfolios! Students can self-direct project-based learning assessment portfolios, building and managing the portfolios themselves.
If you are doing experiential learning activities of any kind with your students, such as self-directed project-based learning, having students build a portfolio of learning outcomes is essential.
Spring is here, the weather is warming, and students are getting antsy. The school year is wrapping up. Teachers want to end the year with a bang, but are also exhausted and don't know how much more they have left in them to give! It's testing season, graduation season, grade report season. Ah! Spring is bonkers in the world of education.
So What better way to cruise through the rest of the year and go out with a bang than with community action projects (CAPs)?
When I was teaching high schoolers, I included community action projects in every facet of my teaching. A community action project is a form of project-based learning where students identify issues in the community, research the issues, brainstorm solutions, develop an action plan, and take action. These experiences are the coolest form of self-directed service-learning.
My entire teaching career was at one school, and the philosophy is strongly rooted in "community" as the foundation for learning. In nine years teaching there I developed a deep appreciation for student-involvement in the community.
Students have the capacity to make massive waves of change because they are young, technologically savvy, and many injustices happening in the world today are happening to them, impacting them directly.
What is Authentic Learning?
"Authentic" is a buzzword in the project-based learning world. Authenticity is the foundation of PBL and plays a role in every step of the process from project design to final evaluation.
That is one feature that separates project-based learning from other teaching methods. Learning experiences, final products, sources of information, the presentation, assessments, reflections, etc. should all be authentic - i.e. relevant, real-world, have meaning in the lives of learners, and give students clarity of purpose.
Top Young Adult Books for Women's Studies
About ten years ago I picked up a book called "Half the Sky". Within the first chapter I read this quote: "More than 100 million women are missing..." at any given time. This is because of trafficking, gendercide, domestic violence, etc. This quote, and this book, really struck me. I mentioned it, and the PBS documentary that goes along with it, to a few of my high school students. They were interested, largely because many of the issues resonated with them personally. These students led project-based learning experiences on some of the issues and shared their final products with the school community.
Project-Based Learning End Product Ideas to Demonstrate Learning
Do you need innovative ideas for project end products that students can create to demonstrate learning? Sometimes we just need something to reference for project ideas. This blog post is a laundry list of interesting and creative project final product ideas that students and teachers can browse for inspiration.
The last several blog posts have been around self-directed project-based learning and how to plan such an experience. Last week I talked about writing a driving question. This in important part of the project design. The next step would be identifying community experts and organizing authentic learning experiences to enhance the experience.
Last week's blog post was all about how to coordinate and implement self-directed project-based learning activity. Whether the experience is teacher-led or student-directed, writing a driving question is often the first step in PBL design and one of the biggest struggles. So how do you write one? How do your students write one? What are some PBL driving question examples? Find the answers to all of these questions right here.
To provide innovative educational resources for educators, parents, and students, that go beyond lecture and worksheets.
Sara Segar, experiential life-science educator and advisor, curriculum writer, and mother of two.