Traditional American classrooms are when you get lectured, take quizzes, do homework and try to memorize enough information for a test that you will soon forget. Project-Based Learning is one method that teachers can use so that their students feel engaged in the work they are doing, not just going through a routine.
In project-based learning, students work together to solve problems, think creatively, and most importantly to work as a group. I think this is an important life lesson is working as a group because no matter what situation you are in, unless you are working by yourself all the time, you will have to collaborate with a coworker to get something done.
There are four key concepts to learn about when learning about project-based learning. The first is the emphasis on the space that you work with. The students will be working in groups so the area they work with has to fit the situation. The second key concept is the students need to have readily available resources to expand their minds. The third key concepts is how you use technology. You should have links and websites ready to go for the students but also let them explore and find these links. Remember that technology can also be a distraction so don’t let them get off topic. The last key concept is to be engaged as a teacher, do not just be a spectator. The link below will provide for more in-depth information on project-based learning.
There have been actual schools with blogs up that have experienced real project-based learning. One example of this blog post is conducted by New Harmony High “Super School”. There are many different schools in this blog post with a wide range of experiences.
Rick Hess, an expert on the subject, breaks down what the students in the the different scenarios of this blog were doing wrong or what they were doing exceptionally well at based on how project-based learning should be conducted in the classroom.
One expert in this field who is an Editor In Chief for a newspaper that deals with project-based learning and who also has books on the subject is very useful in having information on his twitter page as well.
Clayton Christensen, a professor at Harvard University has a blog and also very insightful comments on project-based learning.
Paul Michelman is an Editor in Chief for another newspaper and an expert on the topic.
There are many resources to learn about project-based learning in your classroom. It is up to you as a teacher to be informed on the different ways that you can educate your students on this fun learning strategy.