Marcia Tate describes project or problem based learning as interdisciplinary. Learning is integrated into all aspects of the curriculum, and it is purposeful and student-led.
I love using unit topics (science/social studies) to create exciting and meaningful learning experiences for my students. One of my favorite projects ever was actually during my student teaching experience. As a community/service learning project for social studies, I had my students brainstorm ways they could help out in the community. After lists of ideas and class discussions, we voted on creating a school-wide teddy bear drive for the children at a local women & children's shelter. The students were completely in charge of advertising--creating posters to put on display around the school and flyers to send home with all classes--(writing & language standard...check!) In addition to teddy bears, we also decided that we would accept monetary donations for people who didn't have time to shop for a bear. Each morning, students were responsible for counting the money and stuffed toys collected--(math standard...check!) The students were excited that they were contributing to people who were in need, and they were so engaged in the project, that I never once heard, "I don't know what to write." Or, "Do we HAVE to do this math?" One of my sweet girls brought in all the money she had in her piggy bank to donate. Precious.
By the end of the two week project, we delivered 500 bears and $250 cash to a local shelter. After we were done, many students were already busy brainstorming other projects they could do to help others. Typing this now, I am wondering why I haven't done MORE projects like these. It makes learning fun, and it was just good for the soul!
Although I am a fan of PBL, I think where I struggle is letting the students take more control during activities and projects (I'm a control freak! WHO KNEW!??? HA!!!!!!) Especially in first grade. The project I did with the bears was a 3rd grade class. I felt a little more comfortable giving tasks to the older ones. I loved the suggestion on page 90 about sentence starters to help with student discussions while solving problems.
Like I said, I googled the PBL. (Please don't laugh at me! I really wanted to be a good linky host!) I found this great video on Edutopia. It helped me to see that PBL can be planned, but it can also happen naturally....for example, when I get those awesome "teachable moments"--I should take advantage of them, and allow them to develop into project based experiences.
Please share your thoughts on this chapter, and link up!