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Project Based Learning

What is PBL flyer

In traditional school settings, everyone learns the same thing, at the same time, in the same way. The mission of the Boulder Valley School District is to create challenging, meaningful and engaging learning opportunities so that all children thrive and are prepared for successful, civically engaged lives. Challenging, meaningful and engaging look, sound and feel differently for different people. 

Project-based learning is a dynamic, comprehensive approach to teaching and learning designed to engage students as they explore real-world problems and challenges. The goal for PBL is for students to not only master the standards-based content, but also to demonstrate mastery of skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and self-efficacy so they become self-directed, independent learners. Students learn by doing and applying ideas as they engage in real-world activities that are similar to the activities in which adult professionals engage. PBL leads students to deeper understanding of material when they actively construct their understanding by working with and using ideas.

Students lead much of their own learning as they work on projects and tasks that are personally meaningful. Simply put, they have voice and choice! Since the tasks matter,  students want to do well. Teachers facilitate the guiding questions and ensure the meaningful projects meet content standards and serve an educational purpose.

Individual student progress is monitored through a process of receiving feedback, revising the project and presenting the project publicaly. Formalizing a process for feedback and revision during a project makes learning meaningful because it emphasizes that creating high-quality products and performances is an important purpose of the endeavor. Schoolwork is more meaningful when it's not done only for the teacher or the test. When students present their work to a real audience, they care more about its quality.

There are many variations of project and problem-based learning. Teaching Teams at Meadowlark are all trained in the best practices of Project-Based Learning using materials and frameworks from the Buck Institute for Education. For more information visit: Stages of a PBL Project
Information from the Buck Institute for Education Gold Standard Essential Project Design Elements

Student Learning Goals: The project is focused on key standards-based knowledge, understanding, and success skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration and self-management.
Challenging Problem or Question: The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
Sustained Inquiry: Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
Authenticity: The project features real-world context, tasks, and tools, or impact - or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests and issues in their lives.
Student Voice & Choice: Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
Reflection: Students and teachers reflect on the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
Critique and Revision: Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
Public Product: Students make their project work public by displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.