Educator Development

Find Your Community: Project-Based Learning

You’ve probably heard of project-based learning, before and you’ve probably seen a definition of it before, too. Maybe it looked like this:

Project-based learning (PBL) is an inquiry-based approach that provides a relevant, real-world context for students’ learning. Through PBL, students drive their own learning, work collaboratively and share their learning with an authentic audience.

Chances are, if you’ve tried it in your classroom, you’ve figured out that project-based learning can be messy. Shifting away from teacher-directed learning to make space for student-driven collaboration and inquiry is tough by nature. It may take a few times to see the benefits that you’ve heard other teachers talk about. And no matter how carefully we plan, things can still get a little chaotic.

So, why do we do it?

Students deserve access to learning experiences that challenge them to build agency as they develop their own identities as citizens and participants in their world. Critical to the PBL approach is fostering an environment where students feel safe to take risks, share their mistakes, and celebrate growth. As facilitators of the inquiry-driven classroom, educators play a big role here. We must model this culture of trust, curiosity and collaboration.

Just as we expect from our students, we too should be ready to take some risks. Our sister company, Participate Inc. has a Community of Practice designed to be a support network for teachers to experiment. The PBL community on Participate Inc. is a great place to start!

In their community, you’ll find:

  • A safe space to reflect on your successes and failures as you explore the messy world of project-based learning.
  • An authentic audience of other educators to help you test out new ideas and keep your work intentional, relevant, and grounded in real-world experiences.
  • Resources to guide you through.

Their Community of Practice is meant to be a place for educators to engage in active learning.

What do we do as active learners?

  • We create our own pathways. We decide what we want to learn, ask our own questions, and make our own meaning in different and unexpected ways.
  • We talk to each other. We build off of each other’s ideas, stretch and grow through feedback, and share stories from our classrooms that help us feel connected.
  • We play with an idea over time. Building competency takes time, so we go deep in our exploration. We return to an idea again and again, adapting and iterating and changing our minds.
  • We use what we learn. We jump in and get our hands dirty. We apply what we learn through experimentation and share our experiences with others.

These Communities of Practice are excellent for professional growth, supported by online courses, discussion forums, shared resources and, most importantly, other educators.

Download the project-based learning guide today for tips and resources.