Project-based Learning is the Answer !
Q: What is your best idea for reforming K-12 education right now?
In today’s world, students need three fundamental skills: they need to know how to find information, how to assess the quality of information, and how to creatively and effectively use information to accomplish a goal.These skills are critical for college, careers and life in today’s Internet-connected world.
With project-based learning, students learn by designing and constructing actual solutions to real life problems. Other important learning strategies include social and emotional learning–where kids learn how to cooperate, to lead, and to work well with different types of people.
The foundation sponsored by George Lucas, Edutopia.org, especially advocates on innovative teaching and learning approaches with 21st century technologies mainly because that technologies have been changing our society with fast pace but the education system is rigid. You can find much more resources and innovative “schools that work”. Of course you can find lots of resources about project-based learning on Edutopia.org.
Peter Pappas advocates on Project-based learning and real world learning all the way in his blog, too! His recent post about project-based learning was just published in this month which is an provoking and interesting article. I can’t help wanting to copy/paste it here, but it’s too long, so I urge you to read these entertaining but so real insights : Dilbert’s Seven Arguments for PBL. The best quotes are as below :
Most of our secondary students learn in rigid little disconnected pieces – math class, science class, etc. PBL students learn by integrating across the curriculum. Not only do they combine skills across the disciplines, but they discover how to capitalize on their strengths as they collaborate with their project teammates.
In the traditional classroom all the evaluation comes from the teacher. Students tacitly learn that you need an expert to assess your progress. At best, grades (success or failure) serve as a “post mortem.” When students use the PBL approach they are engaged in meaningful self-reflection and learn to monitor their own progress in pursuit of their goals. Failure in this setting is an aspirational experience that drives them to improve and go back and try again.
PBL projects generally culminate in a product that’s designed to be shared with peers and the larger community. PBL students learn to present to an authentic audience and have opportunities to hone more genuine presentation skills. Public speaking and persuasive writing are a natural element of PBL.
More resources for project-based learning from Peter Pappas : Project Based Learning in the STEM Classroom and Solve This Problem, You’ll Learn the Skills Along the Way .
Another great post about connecting learning to real life is from MindShift : Math and Science: Out of the Classroom, Into the World. With access to a computer or mobile device, apps and websites, students can have a completely different learning experience – one that resonates within the digital world they live. Textbooks will no longer be the predominant source of learning in schools, all subjects are becoming untethered from print books and gaining new life in apps, games and websites. Some examples are given in it.
More resources around project-based learning or real world learning are available to enrich your teaching :
RealWorldMath is designed for educators who wish to extend the concepts of the math curriculum beyond the pages of the text. Google Earth is the dynamic tool that will be used to accomplish this. It provides startling clear satellite views of the globe in an interactive 3D environment. Beyond the visual, users can add placemarks, annotations, photos, and models, as well as measure distances and draw paths.
Get the Math is a multimedia project about algebra in the real world. See how professionals working in fashion, videogame design, and music production use algebraic thinking.
Round-up about Real-World Learning is by Education Week, and Project Based Learning Checklists is by 4Teachers.org, furthermore, Top 7 Project Based Learning Sites by Grant Zimmerman is another reference.
Hope our youths will be equipped to solve real world problems with up-to-date skills, attitude, vision and technology literacy within the long school years in their precious young life.