Project Based Learning- A Definition

A common pushback against PBL is that “students need foundational knowledge before they do projects.” Likewise, if we don’t have clarity on what PBL truly is…then we as teachers can’t implement with major success. Therefore, we inadvertently reinforce the failures of PBL.

Project Based Learning is defined differently by different organizations. Many teachers, Screen Shot 2019-09-05 at 10.59.50 AMschools and organizations will target those organizations that reinforce their understanding of PBL. As I discussed in my earlier blog (PBL vs PBL), there is a difference between Product based learning and Project Based Learning. Take the normal visual of PBL and change it to pbL. Read the same but drastically different focus. Learning based projects is another way to shift the focus.

Here is our focus and how we define pbL.

Academically Rigorous learning where students can transfer their learning in a variety of authentic contexts

Projects can have great products, tremendous student voice and choice, great student reflection but if just having those elements are defining us as PBL practitioners that might lead us down a path where there might not be any LEARNING. Baseline should be to cause learning. Ensure learning and respond to the needs of learners in our classes. We believe one of the best ways to do this is in authentic contexts where students can apply their learning in different and authentic contexts. Helping learners make connections to their world, see their value as humans and their contributions to their community and their world.

When we start our definition of pbL with the focus on Academic Rigor, that helps us create a baseline for our work…to cause learning. Shift your thinking from Products to how might students show their learning in authentic way(s)?

This is our work, this is our focus. Our hope to recenter the PBL world back to pbL. We are a PBL school, that is who we are and who we will always be, at the core we are a learning school that does work in context really well!




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