For the past few years, project-based learning has gotten a lot of attention. Even Bill Gates included a book supporting PBL on his 2019 recommended reading list. However, when you look at the pedagogy’s key ideas, it’s simply an acronym anchored in effective teaching techniques. Unfortunately, many of the expert success examples originate from non-traditional educational settings, making it difficult to see how PBL may work in a typical classroom. Furthermore, they are tales rather than step-by-step instructions or ready-made kits. PBL is a teaching approach in which students learn by actively participating in real-world and personally relevant projects.
The project is what drives the acquisition of critical knowledge and skills in PBL. The project engages students and provides a genuine “need to know,” motivating them to study what is required. All of the instructions and activities that will take place are designed to help students finish the project. Making projects fundamental to student learning, linking them with curriculum requirements, and ensuring they’re real, engaging, and fostering collaboration are all key elements of PBL. Students also require time to reflect on their work and accept constructive criticism.
Benefits of pbl
PBL projects provide a higher level of student buy-in than traditional class projects and allow students to develop real-world skills that are built into the project’s nature since it is intended for application in the real world.
Higher-order thinking and problem-solving abilities are encouraged through increased involvement and interaction with learning content.
Networking with peers and professionals
Communication with possible employers and mentors
Collaboration and communication are two 21st-century abilities that should be cultivated.
Increased learning autonomy and agency
Self-efficacy and a sense of mastery
Obtaining useful career information.
PBL offers an engaging student-centered learning experience that allows students to go beyond mere information and extensively investigate real-world challenges with a focus on problem-solving.
Sprocket, an online portal offered on the Lucas Education Resource site, is one area where instructors may get free PBL curricular resources. However, teachers who wish to pursue PBL don’t need to have a full-year curriculum on hand right now. Educators might start by involving students in projects in simple ways. Consider the following scenario:
How to get started with PBL in the classroom
- Teachers can save time by refurbishing a current project rather than developing a new one with all of the learning objectives, milestones, and products. Remember to look at projects from various grade levels as you browse project libraries for inspiration. Even if you desire that exact seventh-grade social studies assignment, you might be able to discover a similar project in 11th grade that you could modify.
- Always be on the lookout for new initiatives, brilliant ideas, and ways to improve them. Students should learn more as the project progresses. As a result, a four-week project will almost certainly cover a wide range of requirements that must be taught and graded, which might be intimidating for a first project. For your initial project, try to focus on two or three important standards. Concentrate your learning on a single subject rather than a variety of subjects. Aim for a project that lasts two to three weeks, or around 10 to 15 contact hours.
- You might want to explore restricting your options in addition to limiting the amount of time you have. Offer a small menu instead of a large selection of products. Allow students to work in whichever manner they desire, but select the project teams yourself. There are a variety of methods to include voice and choice in a project, however, these features are often constrained.
- Teachers and students can achieve short-term success by reducing the scope of a project, which develops endurance for more difficult undertakings later. Make a question that students must respond to in their project. Students might work in pairs or groups and convey their solutions through a blog or video diary.
Tips for adding PBL in social studies
- Allow students time to research. Give scaffolding to aid learning while students research their challenges and answers. Mini-lectures or films might be used as scaffolding. Encourage whole-class discussions to give students a sense of what they should look for in their research; for distant learning, you can use the chat function in our video conferencing program or put discussion topics in our learning management system. To keep themselves accountable, students devised a rubric to grade their efforts and set learning goals.
- Have students plan and visualize their research: Students might utilize digital graphic organizers to start mapping and brainstorming what topic they’d want to focus on. Allow students to build their stories: I gave students the option of selecting the programs they would use to generate their final products, which would outline their answer to the problem they want to solve. As their real goods, they wrote a day-by-day record detailing their problem, the solution they would implement, and the effect they thought the answer would have.
- Students present their work to an authentic audience: In PBL units, students present their final product to an authentic audience. I had students speak live through Zoom in distance learning; if they weren’t comfortable with that, they could record their presentation as a Flipgrid video. It is also critical to allow for audience comment on the initiatives.
- As a teacher, I need to reflect on what went well and what may be improved. I also recommend analyzing the project with your content team for modifications so you can fine-tune the goals you want to achieve by the end of the project.
- Students work on the project throughout the unit in a PBL environment. I structured it up such that one phase of the project is woven in between each chunk of information. The “why” for studying the subject will then be crystal clear—to be able to finish the next phase of a meaningful final result. The two are not unconnected phenomena that happen at the same time. The content lays the groundwork for the endeavor, while the unit question propels it forward.
- The goal and audience of the project that students complete during the lesson are real. This implies that pupils will not be creating a diorama of geographical elements or a fictitious newspaper story about a historical event to present to their classmates.
Project types in Social Studies that are Frequently Used
Projects in social studies can be designed in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples of classic types:
The more local and personally relevant to students a debate, speech, panel discussion, social media campaign, or multimedia presentation on a current event or contentious subject is, the better.
A historical time, location, person, event, or development is the subject of a museum display.
A monument or memorial project that explains a historical event or development.
A simulation, role-playing game, or game that recreates a situation in which individuals from the past or present must solve a problem, make a choice, counsel a leader, or take action.
A local history podcast, guided tour, field guide, signpost, or annotated digital map.
A civic action or service-learning activity that aims to solve an issue, improve the community, or benefit the globe at large.
A piece of writing submitted to someone in government, academia, business, or a nonprofit organization that tackles a topic or provides a solution to a real-world situation.