Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is a method of “teaching” that allows a student to find their own information, and to choose the way that information is presented, or taught, to others. A key component of project-based learning is to make some sort of outward display of what the student has learned. Depending on the situation (school-based assessment, homeschooling, or summer camp), the results may look very different , but could include a class presentation, a written or hand-drawn book, a poster presentation, or a self-made computer animation, etc.

For example, a school-based project might have more constraints on the project, including a set length of time, a particular type of presentation (written report, etc.), or a broadly-defined topic.

In contrast, the project-based homeschooling blog, Camp Creek, recommends no restrictions – either on time, subject or presentation. The child leads the entire process from start to finish and a parent is merely there to assist with their ideas. There also seems to be a large emphasis on finished art projects and while I greatly admire that, I don’t think it should be the sole focus of a youngster’s project.

C looks at the picture of the pyramids at Giza and makes his own artistic interpretation with clay.

C looks at the picture of the pyramids at Giza and makes his own artistic interpretation with clay.

I prefer an approach somewhere in-between, at least up through the elementary years. As they age and become more adept at finding reliable information, I think their learning paths allow them to let them navigate the vast world of choices, failures and successes. It is much easier to let them to choose their own study materials…if they know where to find quality resources, such as local business owners, government officials, the library, web sites, DVDs, apps, etc. As a young child, they have these experiences due to the efforts of their parent or teacher facilitator.

Picture of kids' books on egypt and ancient Egypt.

Most of C’s books are centered around Ancient Egypt – since we’ve been talking about it this year while reading Story of the World.

I have been utilizing project-based learning concepts and techniques in my computer programming classes, as well as with my own homeschooled children. My family and I are also lucky enough to be a part of a homeschool co-op that facilitates project-based learning. Check out the links below to learn more about how we use project-based learning.

Project-based Learning  – Physics & Catapults

Project-based Learning – Bridges

Project-based Learning – Cities and City Planning

Project-based Learning – Geography

Project-based Learning with Computer Programming