One of the things that is hardest for any teacher that is trying to infuse more project based learning into their classroom is giving up some amount of control. The traditional model of education has the teacher with all of the control. They will decide what the students will learn, when they will learn it, and how they will learn it. It was how we were taught in school and how many of us were taught how to teach. The traditional lesson plan sheet is designed to give the teacher all of the control.
This document is the perfect example of how much control a teacher has in the traditional classroom learning model. While there are important times for the teacher to be the sage on the stage to lay out the big ideas for the students, there is space for the students to start to take ownership of how they want to engage with the content.
When students have agency, voice and choice, they will be more engaged. Student agency is key for a successful implementation of project based learning. The more choice that a student has in the process, the more likely they are to engage in the entire learning process.
Implementing Project Based Learning is not something that happens overnight and is perfectly implemented with every lesson. There are going to be growing pains and mistakes. That is to be expected and is part of the process. I have found that being open and honest with the students about the implementation process actually helps because their feedback on how the lesson went is wonderfully helpful.
I encourage all teachers to take a look at their lessons this year and see how you might turn one into a project based learning focused lesson that gives more agency to the students. I think you will see how engaged and excited they are to dive into content in ways that are meaningful to them.
I hope all of you are having a great school year so far.
Virtual Hugs and High Fives,
The Nerdy Teacher