Analogy for Project-Based Learning

by Ariel Jankord

For the past 2 years I have been on a journey of trying to figure out what is best for kids. Project-Based Learning seems to be a great answer and more possible now that I’m in 4th grade. I just finished my first TRUE PBL. I feel like the best analogy is… It’s like having a baby. Yay, you’re pregnant (decide to try PBL)!! Shortly after you find out what the gender is (driving question) and you start preparing (your whole summer break). Then there’s the count down to the due date (PBL start date). You do anything to try and speed up the process because you’re so excited. Finally the day comes and the baby arrives (PBL hook)! Everyone is so excited and oohhhing and ahhhing (same). Then all the family and friends leave you with this small human being that needs constant attention, love and care (the work begins). All the books and blog posts that you read in preparation don’t seem to apply to your unique baby (your unique class/driving question). You keep pushing through, because there is no turning back. And eventually things get easier, but you’re exhausted and still figuring things out as you go. Finally, that baby is holding their own bottle, sleeping through the night, and then you blink and they are taking their first steps (presenting in front of 30 adults).

If you asked me in the first week ago about Project-Based Learning, I would’ve said “Never again!” But now that we have crossed the finish line I’m excited to do it again!
Now, my next steps are focused on the instruction between PBLs. To go back to traditional teaching seems unfair and unkind to me and the kids! What skills do students need to improve on to enhance the Project-Based Learning environment?