Before I go off the grid for ten days to go kayaking in the Sea of Cortez, I am asking a favor. If you believe that students deserve challenging educational opportunities, and if you believe that the most important question an educator can ask is ‘How Is This Child Intelligent?’ (instead of ‘How smart is this kid?’), then please share these five links with everyone who feels the same way, or who should feel this way.
Part one: Why Project-Based Learning (PBL), plus a project to measure water use in their schools and communities;
Part two: A project to study air quality that elementary students can do at their school;
Part three: Projects that get students out in their communities show the general public the good stuff that schools are doing;
Part four: PBL means students are creating knowledge, not merely regurgitating; here are two great examples;
Part five: This covers the important issue of evaluating project-based learning, plus two more examples of successful PBL.
Basically, these posts are about the significant benefits of PBL. First of all, students become producers of knowledge, not mere consumers of information that others decree they must know. They own what they learn, and they reap the satisfaction of possessing expertise. Moreover, they develop (or sharpen) skills the adult workplace values: the ability to work with others, data-gathering and assimilation, serious inquiry, public speaking, language and math, and more.
Here’s another way to think about this: Countless generations of parents have asked their children, “What did you learn in school today?” This line of seemingly harmless inquiry actually reinforces spitting back stuff, which conditions youngsters to fall in line.
A better approach, which good PBL fosters, is to ask a child “Did you ask good questions today?“ or “What good questions did you ask today?“
That approach supports, encourages, and rewards inquiry and curiosity, traits that most successful adults exhibit.