Project Based Learning
Project based learning (PBL) is an approach to instruct that aims to engage students in a collaborative, real-world issue or problem and challenge them to utilize classroom content to help come up with a creative solution. PBL first started out as a technique used to help prepare Nursing and Med School students for the real-life scenarios they would face on the job. This has since been adapted to be used in across all content areas and at all grade levels.
At Cedars International Academy, we utilize a research-backed approach to PBL to help engage students in authentic problems that are built around content outlined by the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills educational standards, or TEKS. Each project relies on the essential elements shown in the graphic below:
In each class, students work in collaborative teams to solve problems designed by the teacher. This is not a "sit and get" school! Students are guided through this process using carefully designed instructional materials and workshops to help learn the material, then are given the tools and skills needed to come up with their own creative and unique solution or response to the challenge. Teachers work closely with teams to help guide their creation and push students to a deep level of understanding of course content. Projects may look VERY different from one class to another, but all projects follow a general process similar to the one pictured below
The cycle is an ongoing process that allows students to form an understanding, apply to the problem, then circle back to identify new information that is needed or correct misconceptions and then alter or add to their end product design. Through this method, students form a deep and unique understanding of course content, often going beyond the expectations of the state standards.
We have had GREAT success in this model helping students master course content, outperform state averages on standardized tests, and simultaneously develop soft skills like collaboration, critical thinking, and communication that employers look for.
For more information on how our teachers and administrators coach educators around the world in implementing this exciting model in their own schools, visit the Advanced Reasoning in Education website.