“If you put thought into it, you can make the impossible possible.” That’s one of the takeaways from a 2nd grader who’s recently engaged in Project Based Learning (PBL).
This week, 2nd grade families attended an information session that was solely focused on Project Based Learning. What is PBL? In short, PBL is a style of learning that focuses students on a project with applicable, hands-on experiences that deepen their knowledge and build skills that they’ll need in the future. Check out this video overview of Project Based Learning!
In PBL lessons, students ask questions, research, collaborate, share feedback and deliver reflections on their experiences. PBL units offer in-depth, student-directed learning that’s centered on process. Here are a few ways that PBL differs from doing a standard project:
|Projects||Project Based Learning|
|Teacher directed||Student directed|
|Usually no formal presentation by student||Students complete formal presentation in front of peers, “clients,” parents, etc.|
|Done alone at home||Done collaboratively at school|
|About the PRODUCT (culminates with a test of factual recall)||About the PROCESS|
PBL can be implemented for any subject or topic, like it was in a recent PBL project where 2nd graders were tasked to find a way to get children to eat more fruits and vegetables. According to Second Grade Teacher Kristen Witzman, the main focus of this year’s application of PBL in the Lower School is implementing it throughout the social studies program.
“PBL is an amazing avenue for delivering our social studies curriculum that not only allows for teaching content, but just as importantly gives our students everyday practice with 21st century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration and communication in real-world, authentic settings.” ~ Kristen Witzman, Second Grade Teacher
Besides learning the content, students also hone their skills in goal setting, organization, leadership, decision making, teamwork, creativity, compromise and more. At the recent information session for 2nd grade parents, teachers highlighted upcoming PBL projects for the year including Economic Growth, Historical Figures and St. Louis Landmarks. In the past, 2nd grade has also used PBL for units on community and the Olympic Games. PBL has been such a success, not only in our MICDS 2nd grade classes but also globally, that all of our Beasley teachers in grades JK-4 will be incorporating it in their social studies curriculum each year.
The night concluded with sample student reflections and takeaways:
“Listen to other people’s advice and take it. Usually, the advice is something that will help your project get better.”
“I learned how to compromise. If you don’t compromise you can’t get anything done and you feel mad and frustrated. Compromising makes me feel good and relieved.”
“I learned that no matter where you are or who you are you can do anything – whether it’s here at school or across the globe.”
What a powerful difference PBL makes in the lives of our seven- and eight-year-old students, and what an exciting experience for all of the Beasley children!!