Spotlight: Student work in project-based learning
By Drew PerkinsTeachThought Director PD
Recently Abby GriffithA school leader from a district with whom I have worked to develop project-based learning skills, kindly shared the examples of their students in their workplace.
These images are a big testament to how these changes can happen to teachers and students in their first year of PBL implementation and when they must be facing some normal obstacles and fruitful struggles in their journey. Interestingly, the subject of the forwarded email asked “Do these students have an edge?”
I can be embarrassed about the way we think in the workshop and how we work to refine the practice but the work of the students is an important focus here. I like that the driving question in the picture above has created an open challenge with clarity about the product and purpose and you can easily imagine their authentic audience.
Do students look committed or loyal? Are they refining their work like a craftsman? Will the assessments built into the process make sense because they wanted to do their best because it’s important … for them and not just the teacher? Do they have autonomy in how and what they create?
All questions to consider are whether we are refining, monitoring for feedback, or reflecting on students’ work. By clicking through the photo gallery below I like that students are creating, creating and testing their repetitions. They are collaborating and you see evidence of teachers constructively evaluating and connecting to content. I like that student products and solutions vary from food beds to aquaponics to hydroponics and aeroponics and water filtration systems.
As schools and students engage in project-based learning, it may and should look different but is always based on creating and using rich searches to get students there. Would you look and use something we might call a ‘traditional’ teaching method? Yes, of course, but the dynamic transition where teachers are telling students what they need to know is where the students are identifying the content and then asking teachers for help in learning it.
As an interesting side note, Abby mentions the reactions of some conservation teachers who were with her on this teaching walk. They point to the intellectual preoccupation and critical thinking they see and wonder why their teacher preparation program (yet?) Did not empower them to do such work as teachers. This brings me back to the previous question for consideration. Do these students have an edge?
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See more What is project based education?