The PBL Classroom Management Approach

Classroom management used to be a stand-and-deliver operation, with the teacher upfront pontificating on the topic du jour and students dutifully taking notes in anticipation of an upcoming test.
That was then, this is now: Educators using project-based learning (PBL) as a classroom management method, in which they act as more of a facilitator than s lecturer/deliverer.
It can seem chaotic, writes contributor Jacqui Murray in today’s centerpiece article. Here’s her overview: “No matter the project, it must include clearly identifiable goals to be achieved and a roadmap of how students will accomplish them. The teacher starts with an introduction to the subject, including what students can expect to learn, but that\’s where lecturing ends. Students are then broken into groups (or not; PBL can be done as individuals also) and they decide what type of project would best address the goals required by the teacher in the opening monologue.”
Jacqui adds a section of PBL pros to the article, including:
  • Students who actively create a project to support learning absorb the knowledge more deeply and remember it longer.
  • PBL adapts well to differentiated needs as it is students who come up with the project that will guide them in learning a topic. Students can use videos, audio recordings, news articles, art, plays, or any other applicable material, allowing the student to pick what works best for their learning and communication style.
She also spells out some potential pitfalls of the PBL system:
  •  Teacher training in this learning approach is important. Teachers must become comfortable enough to step back and give the lead to students. Yes, teachers supervise and guide, but they don\’t make the decisions. That\’s up to students. It is a challenge for some teachers to step back when students make a mistake, letting them figure out where they went wrong and what to do about it.
  • Assessing PBL projects isn\’t well-suited to a standardized grading scale or rubric. That process can become subjective and difficult to justify if the teacher isn\’t careful.
Jacqui sums up her article thusly: “Overall, PBL is a popular and growing alternative to traditional teaching. It may be exactly the right choice for your unique student group.”

Do you use PBL in your classroom? How is it working? Share your thoughts in the comment section of the article, and join in the discussion!

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