Project Based Learning

This video has been made by a teacher. It is good to see teachers give insight into how they manage , initiate and sustain different ways of teaching and learning. He gives a link to his website at the end of the video. Not too many teachers bang on like the teacher at the beginning of this video. Not any more. I have been in a position of privilege where I have been able to go into other teachers’ classrooms and the thing which has always amazed and impressed me is the number of different ways in which teachers interact with students. The sage on the stage noun phrase has done much to damage being there at the front of your class in a good way . It tends to hark back to  what was the chalk and talk and endless copying. That  is how I was taught. The teacher stood out the front and banged on incessantly and then we had copious notes to take , exercises to do and homework on exactly the same thing. I learned a lot. When you are not allowed to say and do then you are in your own headspace and a good teacher would get you thinking and that headspace would create all sorts of connections and ideas because there was nothing to distract you. Much of it was mind numbing, though. Different era. The student faces at the beginning of this video are classic. I have seen that. The blank almost comatose look. I have never taught for more than 10 minutes at a time and that is of value. I am a teacher. I know a lot. In 10 minutes I can clarify, intrigue, contextualise, ideate, stimulate and set the scene for learning. Most teachers do that these days. They create a rationale or narrative and create their lessons around that.

So where does the project based learning fit in? The notion of it can confuse. Is it actually doing a practical project or is it doing a research and analysis project? This article by TeachThought explains it well. Learning projects come down to challenge based, place based or activity based. You could do a challenge based project on finding out about Shakespeare and his plays. You could do a place based project by going to Stratford on Avon and finding out about where he lived and his cultural heritage. You could put on a Shakespearean play and learn about Shakespeare as an activity based project. Virtual reality will give us other options. Technology gives us yet others. It will always be about the students and the sorts of projects which help them learn best. You then have to balance that against time allocation for the subject , personal teaching load and expectations and then ease of access to resources.

The aitsl professional standards also easily enable you to take project based learning into account :

1.1 Select from a flexible and effective repertoire of teaching strategies to suit the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.
1.3 Design and implement teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.
1.4 Design and implement effective teaching strategies that are responsive to the local community and cultural setting, linguistic background and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
1.5 Develop teaching activities that incorporate differentiated strategies to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.
1.6 Design and implement teaching activities that support the participation and learning of students with disability and address relevant policy and legislative requirements.
2.2 Exhibit innovative practice in the selection and organisation of content and delivery of learning and teaching programs.
2.4 Provide opportunities for students to develop understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and languages.
2.5 Apply knowledge and understanding of effective teaching strategies to support students’ literacy and numeracy achievement.
2.6 Use effective teaching strategies to integrate ICT into learning and teaching programs to make selected content relevant and meaningful.
3.1 Develop a culture of high expectations for all students by modelling and setting challenging learning goals.
3.2 Plan and implement well-structured learning and teaching programs or lesson sequences that engage students and promote learning.
3.3 Select and use relevant teaching strategies to develop knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.
3.4 Select and/or create and use a range of resources, including ICT, to engage students in their learning.

3.3 goes to the heart of project based learning but the other professional standards apply. There are others too which you would meet if you were engaging with colleagues to develop big projects or if you were involving yourself with community organisations and /or parents as part of the project based learning.

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