Education is constantly changing to try and address real-world expectations and needs. There are new tools devised, and a constant change as to how teaching is being delivered. One thing stays the same, students. Each student brings their own unique approach and questions to any given topic. How do we, as a district, harness this innate curiosity? District 36 is embracing 21st Century learning through real world problem solving. It’s a program called Project-Based Learning (PBL). The district will begin implementation of this approach this year with a team of teachers applying this shift in learning.
Differences become quickly seen as the students take on the role of problem seekers. They tackle open-ended questions to get the students engaged in deeper thinking from the start. From there, they work collaboratively gathering information needed to develop a project or performance to show potential outcomes or solutions. This involves students determining a plan, a timeline, and deciding what resources are needed to provide a foundation for developing and completing their project. This leads to expanding their knowledge and skills by doing actively rather than passively.
Feedback and support happen throughout the project, helping students have a clear idea of expectations and learn to adjust and pivot towards the end result. Making the product public at the end increases communication skills, collaboration with authentic problems, and empowering students’ imaginations, learning and personal growth as a priority. As our topics/projects unfold, we’ll share the creativity of the students and staff. Keep an eye out for our first PBL showcase in January.