For the 2016 EdBookNZ project, in collaboration with Connected Educators Month, I was approached by Sonya Van Schaijik to write an education focused blog post. This year I am honoured to be representing the student voice within education, something that I am passionate about and have devoted a lot of my time to with Student Chat NZ. The theme for the 2016 #EdBookNZ project is the current buzz words being used within education. I encourage further discussions via comments as these conversations can always be explored in more depth.
New Zealand education is in the midst of huge change and I am personally quite excited to see what is going to happen in the near future. Anything can happen. New methods of learning are emerging in classrooms across the country. Project based learning (PBL) is one of them. PBL is a popular method used with students who are involved in an inquiry. The combination of a student driven project, collaboration with students, staff and partners and real world learning inspires students to explore new knowledge that might not be available in their physical classroom. Working alongside teachers or external partners for a project, students explore questions and use their project to reach out and find the answers themselves. I have divided this post into four key questions so that I can unpack my understanding of Project Based Learning.
Why are schools turning to Project Based Learning?
Schools see the value in PBL for developing deeper learning experiences for their students. For those experiences that go beyond the basic learning content knowledge, but instead give deeper inquiry learning. It gives students the opportunity to apply that learning to a situation and then present that understanding to an external audience. PBL has a structure where it creates a strong relationship between a problem and an answer. The process provides the challenge to students in that answer their own questions, not answering questions that have been given. This gives students the chance to dive deep and strengthen their understanding of a specific context with the guidance of teachers to guide them in the right direction. That is active and effective learning.
How does Project Based Learning empower students?
If students are given a problem that they must find a solution for then that empowers students; more so than if they are told what the answers would be. Students are given the freedom to use inquiry skills and their own personal knowledge to guide them on their learning journey. Thus empowering students. From personal experience I have witnessed the different levels of engagement in learning when students lead their own learning. If there is a real world situation in conjunction with a project, students actually generate their own knowledge and solutions for that situation. When it comes to the process of sharing their learning journey they tell their OWN story of their OWN learning. That is the power of an empowered student.
Why should students be learning as creators?
Young people need to be creators of knowledge, ideas and solutions for our future as mankind. Everything is changing, nothing (or very, very) little in our world will stay the same forever. We need to create in order to be productive successful members of our communities and our planet. With the world constantly changing, more and more problems in our world will emerge. The people of today need to be able to think on their feet and challenge themselves to make a difference in our world. The more inquiry that happens that create ideas for solutions, the better the world will be. By creating ideas for solutions, more meaning can be found in the learning. The outcome of student learning is confidence, complexity and deep thinking. These skills become lifelong that students can use and refer to in their future.
What are my personal views on Project Based Learning?
I am actively involved in PBL and use it every week at Hobsonville Point Secondary School as part of our school curriculum. I think that PBL is a powerful learning framework and I believe more schools should be using it because of the powerful partnerships that are formed between students, staff and external collaborative partners. PBL has the structure where students become the teachers just as much as the regular teaching staff. The positive outcome with students from my school is that they are willing to help and guide each other with their projects while still finding the time to manage their own learning. I find that just awesome. PBL is all about sharing your knowledge with others to produce powerful outcomes and to make a difference.
Anderson, J. (2016, July 07). Reflecting on HPSS Projects – The blog of a 21st century … Retrieved October 18, 2016, from https://jamesbruceanderson.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/reflecting-on-hpss-projects/
Project Based Learning – Bayshore Community Academy. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2016, from http://www.bayshorecommunityacademy.net/project-based-learning.html
Wakeford, S. Retrieved October 18, 2016, from https://twitter.com/wakeford1975
What is PBL? | Project Based Learning | BIE. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2016, from http://www.bie.org/about/what_pbl