Why Project-Based Learning?

Sallie-Wells-headLetter from Head of School 
Today I joined colleagues from across 20 states to partake in a conference hosted by Buck Institute on PBL. All of us gathered to learn more about PBL. There were varying degrees of knowledge among my colleagues as it related to implementing PBL but one thing was profoundly definitive – all of us understood the need for something different – something that engages our students and broadens their educational scope.

Why the need for change? One reason is that we no longer know what types of jobs our graduates will have. Technology, automation and a broader global connection makes it difficult to predict the jobs our students will have. As we take on the challenge of educating our graduates for college and ultimately for the workplace, we as leaders and educators must broaden our scope of work. There is a real need to recreate and define learning environments that will best prepare our students for this unknown job market. It is believed by many that Project Based Learning best prepares students, as the PBL framework for learning aligns best with what we believe the future will look like for our children.

Here’s a few reasons why PBL is believed to be the right answer:

  1. PBL allows for students to collaborate with each other. This is not only a valued skill in the workforce but also within the context of relationships. PBL promotes collaboration through group work, allowing students to learn how to be a part of a team.
  2. PBL allows for students to take risks and to learn that failure creates the opportunity for greater learning. In PBL, students design, problem solve and create to meet a challenge or solve a problem, as we all know seldom do we achieve success our first attempt at a challenge.
  3. PBL allows for creativity as students engage in learning to answer real world problems or challenges. This allows students to develop critical analysis skills, problem solving skills, and to think creatively about problems and challenges.
  4. PBL allows students to build strong communication skills, both written and verbal, as students present to a real audience their process of learning and their outcome.
  5. PBL deepens a student’s learning and provides students the opportunity for mastery of concepts and skills.
  6. PBL promotes a growth mindset, allowing students to learn to be open to a variety of possibilities and perspectives.

PBL when done correctly is an effective learning strategy and, like all things that are effective, requires the know how and talent of highly educated curriculum developers, leaders and educators. At Clariden, we’ve been doing PBL effectively for what is now our 4th year. Our students are thriving –  colleges are seeking our students, our students are growing academically and socially, and our students are engaged with their learning. They feel empowered to learn, empowered to voice, and empowered to create.

As I learn more at this conference, I’m excited to bring back my thoughts and ideas on how best to continually improve our fabulous Gold Standard PBL program.

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