What is Project Based Learning? 5 Examples to Inspire Today's Educators

Friday, October 30, 2020
What Is Project Based Learning

Educators can always use more tools to get and stay inspired about teaching. Project Based Learning is one of those tools. 

Below, you’ll find more information about what Project Based learning is and what the benefits of it are for students and educators. 

What is Project Based Learning?

Project Based Learning, or PBL, is a teaching method that helps students learn actively with hands-on, long-term projects that allow students to respond to a real-world problem using real-world solutions. 

Moreover, these long-term projects allow students to personalize their learning by connecting with issues that are meaningful to them. 

Projects within PBL might take six months or an entire school year to complete, and they engage students in complex, real-world, problems and challenge them to answer complex, real-world questions. 

What are the benefits of Project Based Learning?

PBL allows students to engage actively in their learning, leading to more excitement and creativity. They learn problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills.

Students also learn how to apply the skills they gain in the classroom to a real-world environment or problem. This helps them make connections between academic learning and ways they can contribute to society.

Ultimately, connecting personally and more actively to the information that students are gaining in the classroom helps them retain the lessons that really matter. Moreover, it helps students realize how they can use the lessons when they graduate and become part of professional society.

The projects that educators can engage students in also tend to unleash an excitement and creativity among educators as well, adding an element of inspiration to the teaching experience that might be missing in more traditional lessons.

5 Examples of Project-Based Learning Activities for the High School Classroom

1. Write and Present a TED Talk

In this PBL learning activity, students will choose a topic to write and present in the form of a TED Talk. 

This project engages students in the process of brainstorming and discovering topics that matter to them, writing a structured and engaging talk on the subject, and working on public speaking skills by presenting in front of their class or even the entire school.

This will allow students to find out what problems and issues they are passionate about, learn more about those issues, and develop an opinion to share based on their own experiences and learning. 

Then, writing the speech will challenge students to not only write well but in a way that engages an audience in the strict formatting of a TED Talk. 

Finally, students will learn how to speak effectively in front of a group, gaining confidence and public speaking abilities.

2. Create a Podcast

In this PBL activity, students will get into groups to plan, write, and produce a podcast of their choice. Educators might choose to do this as an entire class and have students choose their own roles or break students into smaller groups based on their interests.

Students will get to choose an issue or topic that interests them, conduct research on that topic, and craft the podcast. They will learn about recording audio clearly, producing the podcast by getting everything (equipment, interviews, etc.) they need put together, writing with structure and purpose, speaking clearly and passionately for an audience, and working as a team.

NPR even had a contest recently in which they chose top student podcasts from around the nation to share with a national audience.

3. Start a Business

This PBL activity challenges students to start their own business based on their own interests and talents. 

Students might choose to start a business with a group or on their own.

This will challenge students to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, create a business plan, and execute that plan in an effective manner.

Though this might seem like a major challenge at first, students will surprise you with their abilities and passion! 

They will learn the necessary skills to start a business and recognize their own passions and abilities.

4. Craft a Photo Essay

In this PBL activity, students will craft a photo essay on a subject of their choice. 

This type of long-term project is a great way for students to choose an issue or topic that matters to them that they can communicate through photography, engage more actively in their community, or find out what makes their town and city unique. 

Students might even choose to photograph a hobby or passion that they have and look at it in a new way.

5. Plan and Execute a Social Media Campaign

Since students already use social media, this PBL activity allows them to utilize their social media skills for positive change.

Students will choose an issue they want to address using social media and craft a campaign. They will also need to learn how to spread awareness about their campaign, advertise it, and make sure it’s effective.

This project will teach students the positive aspects of social media but will likely also open their eyes to the ways social media works by collecting data and using different algorithms to promote certain information while leaving others information off users’ feeds.

Unleash your creativity!

As educators, you have so much creativity to utilize, so you can likely come up with the best projects for your students that engage them in Project Based Learning.

Some other ideas might include: creating a political campaign, starting a recycling program, writing and editing a classroom newspaper, building a robot to help with classroom activities, conducting focus group research to answer an important question, and so many more!