Nine Practical ways to implement project-based learning in classrooms – A guest post submitted by Savi Kannan, Houston TX
Project-based learning is an education with a purpose that creates opportunities for a kid. The project-based teaching lets a kid excel in areas like critical thinking, smart analyzing, coordination, communication and developing great strategies.
I was almost amazed and happy at the same time to learn these benefits. However, an obvious question that struck my mind was how to make time for these skills and create suitable content. Then I learned about effective project-based classroom learning techniques. PBL means practical ways to include effective learning in the classroom. It differs from the hand-on classroom activities that go parallel with the subjects.
By connecting with parents and teachers in the PTA meetings, I was able to learn a lot about projects.
The discussion was about the duration of PBL activities, the subject wise projects, grade-wise activity assignment and along the way assessment of students. Project-based learning involves expert observations to check the progress of kids. It differs from the usual grading system of the final product. The project-based learning includes:
- Knowing the purpose of the project and issues, it will solve. Some common issues might include, recycling, environmental issues, eating habits, school rules, etc.
- Correct usage of the resources available to create the project. This helps the students to coordinate with the community.
- Working as a team to solve public issues.
- Spending a few minutes on the review of the project created.
Creating the end product is not sufficient. Students need to check their performance to ensure they have properly used all elements. The correct usage of resources makes the project a true PBL.
Practical ways to include PBL in the classroom
Here are some methods to include Project-based learning in elementary classrooms.
- Read aloud-books– These books inspire students to find an issue and ways to solve it. It lets students think creatively and also forms the basis of PBL. Below is a list of books that can do what it needs for PBL.
- Endangered species-Dobson, David. (1997). Can We Save Them?
- Water usage-Frost, Helen. (2000). Keeping the Water Clean.
- Recycling- Barnham, Kay. (2007). Recycle. New York: Crabtree Press. Green, Jen. (2005). Why Should I Recycle?
- Helping Others Ring, Susan. (2005). Helping Hands. Minneapolis: Capstone Publishing.
- Exploring Your Neighborhood Smith, David J. Illus. by Shelagh Armstrong (2011). If the World Were a Village.
- Healthy Eating Sohn, Emily and Diane Bair. (2012). Food and Nutrition: Eating to Win. Chicago: Norwood House Press.
- Practical project-based learning for kid-These projects needs the class to think about ideas as a team that can solve a certain issue. The following project ideas let students focus on a central question regarding an issue.
- Studying the how-to guides to find ideas for the project
- Featuring issues in the local newspapers and magazines by writing articles
- Creating toys or small machines with a purpose.
- Poster making or brochures for an organization or a local firm.
- Making slides or videos to produce them to the audience.
- Creating a collection of the best out of waste like a museum collection.
- Project inspiration from the non-fiction series-The following non-fiction series by educator and author, Jessica Cohn has inspiring project ideas for kids.
- Hand to heart-It includes writing letters to the people that have served us always. Writing to the politicians, sending gifts to soldiers, gardening, collecting items to donate, and thanksgiving to firefighters are some noble activities of PBL.
- Hand to paw-These include ideas to save animals from reckless killing and caressing them. Writing articles on endangered animals, making biscuits for dogs at home, earning money by pet shows and donating it to the pet shelter, donating pet food to a pet shelter are some activities of PBL.
- Hand to Earth-It includes project ideas related to environment conservation. Closing the tap while brushing teeth, using the leftover water for watering plants, switching off lights and fans when not in use, usage of solar energy to generate electricity, reusing plastic cups etc. are some ideas on projects for environment conservation.
- Creating a question chart-Creating a question chart for students helps them to research topics. Teachers can display a chart and list a few questions in it. Students answer these questions based on the information gathered about them. They can write a letter, prepare slides or write creative articles from the information gained.
Sample projects and books for PBL
The following are some ideas for project-based learning guides for the elementary classrooms. Each of them contains grade-wise resources for in-depth learning. These packages also come with steps and organizing tools to research on a topic.
- Second grade
- Disappearing coral reefs-Students find out the technique on how to solve issues of vanishing coral reefs.
- Make more chocolate-Students learn smart ideas on producing more chocolates.
- Let’s change together-Students learn to team up in changing the laws and rules in their community.
- Third grade
- Food’s Global web-Students Learn more about the food we eat and do they grow
- How prepared are we?- Is the school strong enough to survive thunderstorms and lightning? Students learn about the technology that can solve such issues.
- Visitor or invader-Should school support visiting distant places or vacation? Students learn the importance of exploring new places and cultures.
- Fourth grade
- Crack the codes-Students learn the importance of coding at an early age. The guide explains how coding affects our lives.
- Money games – The guide explains students to create efficient games using minimal money. Learning to code at an early age increases the thinking capability of students.
- Protect my rights-Students must learn about the most important rights of the bill that need protection.
- Fifth grade
- Hero’s journey– Students learn to develop characters, plot, and storyline for a hero’s journey fiction.
- Rethink Farming-All about farming techniques at one place to teach students about the same. The guide also explains traditional farming methods.
- Explore history– How Does history contribute to the present? How important is history for technology today? Students come across such questions and get to explore these.
These methods impressed me. The only thing remaining was to enroll my son in the PBL classroom. I was excited to see the positive results of project-based learning. I also wanted to know the steps I can take for my kid. The summer vacation is a great time for kids to try fun activities. These extra projects at home keep children active in the holidays.
The following are the budget-friendly ideas that I learned for my son.
- Crafty ideas
- Paper dream catchers-It a paper-based craft activity that lets children have sweet dreams at night.
- Paper Lantern-It is the most common yet popular among kids. You can use this to brighten your home. This will make children feel proud of their creation.
- Bottle flower prints– This is the best idea to make kids creative. Kids can use bottles to create beautiful designs from colors.
- Egg carton boats– Kids can design egg cartons into a mini boat. This will let kids think of more creative ideas.
- Craft sunflowers-Making flowers from craft paper are simpler. Kids can make various flowers of their choice. You can use them to decorate your home.
- Paper Fort-Let children think something new and build it. Making a huge fort from old newspapers is a good idea. This will let them think of techniques to do so. Finally, you have a nice fort made by your child.
- Identifying the problem -You must pay attention to the things your child is interested in. Find out the issues that your child faces. Pay attention to the questions they ask you. Try to convert small things into creativity for your child. Creating a new approach leads to new activities. Below is a list of activities that you can ask your kid to do.
- Master chef– Let your kids be the chef for a day. Encourage them to prepare fine recipes for the members. They learn to chop, to cut, to fry, etc. Appreciate the result to encourage them.
- Local issue-There might be common issues in your community. These might include water issues or electricity issues. Ask your kid to write letters to the authority. Turn it into a project by letting kid research on it. Let them know about the local government. This will help in understanding how the government works.
- Business plans– Find out how well your kids interact with neighbors. If they love the babysitting or lawn-mowing, let them do the following.
- Creating own enterprise
- Building a formal business plan
- Make it different– Do not make it the usual reading and writing for kids. Think of something tangible. Let your child make a choice first. Ask him to create an outcome of this choice. If there is an issue in your local area, let your child find out the solution.
- Subject wise activities-Make the projects subject-specific for your kid. Pick out activities that justify a subject. This will let him learn more about the subject. Best practice can be to sign up for free trial offers many platforms offer. These sites can help you with various PBL ideas.
- Workspace-Kids need a workspace to show the skill. Free out some space of your home for the kids to work. They must carry out projects uninterrupted. Try making the space a studio for them. During dinner, they can leave their pending work here safely. A personal workspace is important to think without distractions. Let kids decide on how to keep the workspace. It can be tidy or messy depending upon their convenience.
- Library trips– Make library visits frequent for your children. A good book can inspire them. Books are a great resource for learning new ideas. Let children read and present their views on the same.
- Raise funds-Ask your kids to think of fundraising ideas. Encourage them to conduct small shows. Encourage them to volunteer in child programs. Make it great project-based learning for your kids.
All the above ideas work better with your appreciation. With this, you can provide your children with the best PBL environment. In case you are not sure of the project idea, try consulting with the kid’s teacher. The school and home both contribute to project-based learning for kids.
Websites for kid’s project-based learning
Nine Practical ways to implement project-based learning in classrooms just a quick starter. Here is a list of useful websites for kids’ project-based learning.
- The Buck Institute: This organization provides PBL materials ideas. It includes videos of various projects for children. Training materials for teachers are also available here.
- Donors choose-This is a platform to raise funds for kids project-based learning.
- The project approach – The site offers project examples and resources. It also comprises useful tools for project-based learning.