This week my wondering floated directly to the surface: Project Based Learning, Problem Based Learning, Challenge Based Learning . . . aren’t these all just synonyms for great teaching?
- “At its best, PBL can help you as a teacher create a high-performing classroom in which you and your students form a powerful learning community focused on achievement, self-mastery, and contribution to the community. It allows you to focus on central ideas and salient issues in your curriculum, create engaging and challenging activities in the classroom, and support self-directed learning among your students.” – Introduction to Problem Based Learning
- “PBL requires that teachers facilitate and manage the process of learning. Rather than rely on the model of the child as an empty vessel to be filled, PBL teachers must create tasks and conditions under which student thinking can be revealed—a cocreative process that involves inquiry, dialogue, and skill building as the project proceeds.” – Introduction to Problem Based Learning
- “What if we focused our energy not on test scores and rankings but on engaging students in their work? What if their work was more than facts and formulas as presented in books, but relevant to the world they see? What if rather than trying to teach them problem solving, we actually encouraged them to take on problems that needed solving? . . .and the evidence from this pilot shows that when given the room and flexibility to tackle things they see as not only relevant, but critical to their lives, they are not only engaged, but they bring the learning to themselves” – NMC Report
- “What’s essential, she says, “is establishing the learning atmosphere, how the class feels.” Instead of generating rules with her students, she invites them to “generate tendencies, [and] positive ways to be together.” – Connie Weber
- “to get a new sense of themselves as learners — that learning is something valuable,” –Seymour Papert
“High-performing”, “learning community,” “self-mastery,” “engaging,” “process of learning,” “cocreative,” “skill building,” “relevant,” “valuable,” do I need to go on? What teacher doesn’t strive to have their classroom live and breathe these characteristics. No matter what you call it, engaging students in learning that is both important to them and empowering for their lives is one of the central reasons why we are educators.
Our students hold immense potential for the betterment of our future. It is therefore our responsiblity, as educators, to provide learning experiences in which they can practice and problem-solve that task of leading the future. In her TED talk, Jane talks about capitalizing on the potential of gamers to solve some of the looming world problems. Her full talk is embedded here, however she presents three specific examples of games that she has developed to help practice solving real world problems starting at 15:32. Enjoy!
No matter how we go about it or what we call it, we need to provide learning opportunities that are relevant, challenging, multi-faceted, connected, involve current technology, require collaboration, encourage action, and hold meaning for our students and their futures. If we aim for anything less than this, we are doing our students a disservice.