In an effort to improve the educational landscape, particularly in more formative years of a child’s education, Common Core State Standards have been adopted by all but a handful of states across the US.
Raising the bar significantly while at the same time providing students with more resources to meet these elevated standards, Common Core is designed to help push future generations of US students further and faster than they would have with more traditional educational pathways.
Though there was a bit of pushback in the early stages, new research shows that Common Core is wildly successful. On top of that, it’s becoming even more successful with the adaptation of new teaching methodologies that include Project-Based Learning (PBL).
Project-Based Learning is Transforming the Classroom
Recognizing just how important creativity and collaboration are in our modern world, and how woefully unprepared our students were for the major shifts and changes that have occurred over the last 20 years, PBL is designed to improve upon the effectiveness of our traditional teaching methodologies.
Speaking on the impact that PBL has had in California schools online, a California state superintendent named Chris Wheaton went on to say “The relevance of a project really inspires children to look deeper, and it allows more complex problem-solving activities to go on”.
Rather than force our students to try and memorize data and information by rote from a textbook in a two-dimensional type of way, PBL instead encourages our students to tackle a project with their peers – searching for solutions, working out creative answers, and in the process learning a lot more about the material they are studying while utilizing skills and knowledge they picked up in other classes as well.
Project-Based Learning In Action
In California, a fifth-grade teacher named Sarah Siebert decided to teach her class about the lessons in the young adult novel “Hatchet” with a PBL approach. Students still had to read the book (obviously), but instead of turning in traditional book reports or having anything but spirited debate in the class about the material, Sarah instead decided to challenge her students to build rafts out natural materials, string, duct tape, and glue – giving the children all of the materials the protagonist has in the novel Hatchet to create their own raft just as he did.
Along the way, students were challenged not only to gain a deeper appreciation of what the protagonist had to go through but also they had to pull from, and in that process strengthen their skills in mathematics, their design and creativity skills to troubleshoot buoyancy issues, and their communication and collaboration skills to work with one another in small groups to come up with effective solutions.
Children challenged to use PBL to deepen their education don’t even realize just how hard they are really working, in large part because they are operating the way they will in the “real world – collaborating with peers, coming up with creative solutions, working through disagreements, and overcoming obstacles.