A decade ago, project based learning (PBL) was popular in a few schools and with a few teachers, but hardly widespread. Not so now. With the rise of 21st century skills instruction, the advent of career and college readiness goals and a renewed emphasis on inquiry, the game is changing. PBL is popular.
The most visible evidence of PBL’s new level of acceptance is a phenomenon rarely encountered in prior years: Districts have begun to see PBL as the primary method for teaching and learning in all grade levels, and are backing up their decision by offering in-depth PBL professional development and coaching to teachers.
For any District, this is a brave step into the unknown. There is a dramatic difference between conventional instruction and a student-focused, inquiry-based approach. Often, this can show up in poorly planned projects that leave students, teachers and administrative staff dissatisfied with results. PBL is a sophisticated methodology, with many moving parts, and teachers and staff developers may not recognize how challenging it is to implement—or how difficult to train for.
But it can be done right. Districts benefit when they take a careful step-by-step approach that allows sufficient time and opportunity for PBL to take root and flourish. Here are ten steps that will help:
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