Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Path to PBL and Making in the Classroom #MakerEd #PBLChat

I've always thought that PBL lead very naturally, for me, to Making and Makerspaces. As I thought more about it, the two concepts can both be approached the same way in the classroom. That is good and bad though. There are approaches that some call PBL or Making, but fall a bit short for me. There are three steps to PBL and Making that should be explored by educators looking to introduce these practices in the fall.

Step 1: Teacher Controlled

Project Based Learning

Having student create exactly what the teachers has asked for is Teacher Controlled PBL. It is not true PBL. It is having students follow a recipe and just being compliant. Very little creativity is allowed or needed to complete the task.


Having students work in a Makerspace creating exactly what the teacher has asked is not true Making. It is follow directions and doing as they are told. It's not very fun and the students might appear engaged, but they are just going through the motions.

Step 2: Teacher Influenced

Project Based Learning

This version of Project Based Learning has the teacher putting some constraints on the project or adding specific aspects that must be addressed in the project. This is closer to pure PBL, but the teacher still has too much say in the process.


Teachers sometimes put out tasks or ask students to complete projects with broader guidelines in the Makerspace. A teacher influenced Maker project is close to pure Making, but it still has too many teacher fingerprints.

Step 3: Teacher Free

Project Based Learning

The purest form of Project Based Learning is Genius Hour/20 Time. This is the purest form to me because it allows the student to choose what they want to learn and how they are going to demonstrate what they learned when they are done. The student is in full control of their learning from start to finish and the teacher provides whatever support the student might need along the way.


Pure Making is exactly the same thing. Word for word, it is the same. Students use the Makerspace to explore their passions and share what they have made and what they learn in ways that work for them. The teacher acts in a support fashion if needed.

I want to stress that Step 1 and 2 are ONLY bad if that is the only way that PBL and Making are approached. If educators stop and Step 1 or 2, the students are not getting a full PBL/Maker experience. Teachers should start with Step 1 and model the process of creating the project with the students. Next, Step 2 allows the students to see how choice can come into play for projects. Lastly, Step 3 allows the students to explore learning on their own and the teacher provides support as needed.

Like all things in education, this is not the end all be all approach to Making or Project Based Learning. This is what I've noticed over the past few years of using PBL and Making in my classroom and school. Do you have something to add that I missed? Is there another step? Share it in the comments.

Hugs and High Fives,


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please post your thoughts here. Thanks!