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Project-based learning is an increasingly popular method of instruction in which students drive their own learning by completing projects. This lesson will provide you with several examples to use in your classroom.

Project-Based Learning Defined

Let’s flash forward to the year 2030, when the students you are teaching in your classroom now are productive members of society holding jobs in many different fields. One student, Adam, has gone on to work for an advertising company. Adam has just been told by his boss that he needs to come up with a marketing campaign for a brand-new product. All Adam is given is the name of the product and some very basic information.

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It is now Adam’s task to research everything about this product, its competitors, and its predecessors and put together a presentation to give to the executives of the company that makes the product.To others, this task might seem insurmountable. But to Adam, who remembers your class and all of the project-based learning activities he did with you, the work comes very naturally. This is because project-based learning helps students gain the skills needed to succeed in a modern work environment. These skills include critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and innovation.Project-based learning can be best defined as a teaching method through which students work to answer a complex question or solve a complex problem. This problem solving includes researching the question, synthesizing the information, working with others, and presenting the work to the class (and you, the teacher).

Projects can last as long as they need to and can cover a wide variety of topics and subject areas.

Ideas & Learning

This lesson will provide you with some examples of project-based learning that you can use in your classroom. These examples will serve as general ideas for a project and can (and should!) be modified to fit your students’ needs and abilities.

1. Identify and Solve a School-Wide Problem

Several times a year you may hear on the news about an amazing feat achieved by a group of students in some far away school. Would it surprise you to hear that it could be your own class on the news someday? Through project-based learning, it very well could be!Having students identify and solve a school-wide problem is a great way to implement project-based learning in your classroom.

The problems and solutions will be specific to your school. For example, students could identify the need for their school to save money and, through project-based learning, research and identify a solution for that problem.

2. Answer an Old Question

Often, when you teach history, students will wonder how people of the past were so confused by questions that seemed to have simple answers. For example, many students scoff at the idea that people used to believe that the earth was flat. You can use these questions from our past and task students with answering them using the tools at their disposal.

3. Change Their Community

‘Next up, see how a fourth grade class from XYZ Elementary helped their community become a better place.

‘ You’ve probably heard this story many times and often wondered what it takes to get a group of students to enact change in their community. Good news! You can get students to enact change in their community through project-based learning!By tasking your students with identifying a problem they see in their community and then working to address that problem, you might one day see your class on the local news. For example, your students may notice that cars are always speeding down a block where kids play. Through project-based learning, they can research how to get new speed restrictions placed on that road, leading to a positive change for their community.

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